Archive for January 9th, 2011


Does Violin Playing Make You Smarter?

January 9, 2011

Indiana University professor going to find out

In Attica, Indiana, a town with 10% unemployment, the town’s residents raised $40,000 to purchase 36 violins and to pay a qualified teacher to provide instruction to 58 students. Music education professor from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Brenna Brenner, developed the program to after academic research showed students who played string instruments performed better academically then those who did not.

You can read the entire article written Dan McFeely by clicking here.


Inflatable Sculptures

January 9, 2011

Artist Joshua Allen Harris surprises people

I’ve shared Joshua Allen Harris’ inflatable sculptures with you in the past before the meartsed blog existed. The YouTube embedded below includes an interview with him which I found interesting. If I were in the classroom I would share this with my students.

Years ago (before YouTube) I made inflatable sculptures with my middle school students after returning from the Maine Art Education conference weekend at Haystack. With the teachers in the session we collaborated to create a sculpture large enough for us to get inside. We drew names at the end of the session for who would keep the sculpture and my name was drawn. My students had an example that motivated them to create incredible sculptures that resembled animals and objects. Box fans were donated that provided the air to make them 3-dimensional and the work was placed at the end of each hallway for open house. They were the highlight of the evening and for years following parents would see me in town and mention them.

When I saw Harris’ work it brought back fond memories and gave me the opportunity to think about why the unit was successful and such a magical experience. Creating something from next to nothing, using materials that are easily accessible: irons, garbage bags, paper, and fans. Students collaborated so each member of the group could contribute: creativity, problem solving, leadership, engagement, and skills that could be transferred. The process as well as the product was valuable. All levels of students were successful!

And again the inflatable sculpture came into my teaching and learning in 1995. While attending International Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama we learned about how to introduce space education into our classrooms. We used an inflatable sculpture of the space shuttle to simulate what it feels like to live, work and play inside the small space of the shuttle. The NASA staff wanted participants to understand the importance of creativity and creating in what most perceive as a science and math world only.

The technology of creating inflatable sculptures is not new but Harris puts them in the urban environment and depends on the exhaust from the subways to inflate them. The timing is varied so people could be walking down the street and in front of them might rise a dragon or bear or another one of his sculptures.

For those of you who don’t have access from school to YouTube try clicking on this link to the information.

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