Creative Printing at Connaught House School
20 February 2018
Blog by Christabel Forbes

(click on photos to see more)

“I particularly enjoyed the art workshop in the afternoon as it encouraged my mind to explode and go wild, which improved my creativity.” – Leah, Yr 6

 On the 20th February 2018 members of the SunSpaceArt team (Geraldine Cox, Dr Dagny Kimberley Yousuf, Dr Krishna Mooroogen and Dr Helen Mason) were welcomed to Connaught House School by Christabel Forbes, an art teacher and also a member of the SunSpaceArt team. The school is a small independent school in central London with only 74 students in total. The classes are small and have a friendly, yet hard working environment.

This workshop gave the children the opportunity to learn from real scientists and artists. The aim was to teach the children about the Sun and the universe and to then to inspire them to create art work through the medium of  printing.

Our day long workshop was split into sessions. We began with the questions that the children had prepared beforehand about our Sun and the universe. We kept a record of the children’s ideas and questions on a white board, which we could refer to throughout the day. The students (23 in total) were from years 3, 4, 5, and 6. We overcame the challenge of teaching a class with such varied ages by keeping a record of all their questions, which could be answered, one to one.

Helen Mason, a solar scientist, led the morning session by giving an interactive presentation.  She answered some of the children’s questions about the Sun, such as ‘What is it? Where and how big is it?’. She also showed images of the Sun and different light energy (InfraRed and UV), which enabled the children to learn facts and get involved with short science demonstrations. She discussed the distance of the Earth to the Sun and the relative sizes of the Earth and other planets. Helen emphasised that the children should never look at the Sun directly as this could damage their eyes. Dagny, Geraldine and Krishna showed some science demonstrations, for example vibrations and the ways of detecting ‘invisible light’ with an InfraRed camera, UV torches and small UV sensitive beads. These explored light waves coming from the Sun, and how energy is carried.

During lunch we were interviewed by Yr6 pupils. The students asked us lots of questions, ranged from what we did, how we got there and how we work as a team. This was a great way of giving them a personal guide to how we became artists or scientists. Hopefully it helped them think about their own futures.

After lunch we focused the art and science activities on exploring light in the visible and invisible. The scientists gave the children opportunities to try different experiments with infrared light, vibrations with a Chladni plate and magnetism. The artists then demonstrated how to make  prints. We wanted the children to creatively express their ideas about the Sun and universe. We showed them an example of how to make a simple pattern from the Chladni plate into a monoprint. Rolling ink onto the protected table surface we drew patterns and placed a piece of paper over it. Once the paper was peeled off, this made a monoprint. This was a quick and effective way of painting but required a lot of supervision.We made sure that the children wore protective aprons as they got very messy! The children were able to get creative. We gathered their work on the walls with pegs and string so that they could see each other’s work. As a class we asked the children to talk about what they had made and also about what others had made. We then asked the children for their feedback on post-it stickers.  The artwork stayed up in the hall for the school to view.

The feedback from the children and staff was very positive and the workshop was a great success. Having scientific information and ideas to inspire children and links to art was very satisfying and encouraged a very positive response from the children. Here is some more detailed feedback from the Year 6 students:
“Today was so much fun. I enjoyed learning about the Sun and Earth and lots of different interesting things. I wish I could see them (the SunSpaceart team) everyday, so I can learn new things about the world. The activities that the scientists and artists made were so much fun, especially the art at the end of the educational day. I loved working with them and I hope to see them again soon. Everything was so, so fun and exciting. Halfway through the day I had an interview with them and I asked them “why did you combine science and art?” And they explained that both subjects are very creative.” –Jena
“I really enjoyed it when they talked about the Sun. I liked finding out that the Sun is not the biggest star in our galaxy, even though I thought it was the largest.” – Sophia