‘The children learnt a lot about the planets and travelling to the Moon. They also learnt about astronauts. The biggest thing they learnt was how to incorporate art into science and explore the movements and journeys of the colours they were using.’ (Anna Fadian, teacher)
During National Science Week in March, scientist Helen Mason along with artists Christabel Forbes and Sehar Sheikh had the pleasure of being invited to Manor House School in Kensal Rise. The SunSpaceArt team were invited following the Sun Lates at the Science Museum in November 2018. This was the first Special Educational Needs, SEN, school that the team had visited (besides Blanche Nevile, a school for deaf children) and upon entry we found a passionate group of staff and equally as passionate children who were excited for the day’s activities!
Science week this year had the theme of ‘Journeys’. Scientist Helen Mason built on this theme in the morning session. Amongst many things, the children learnt about:
- Astronaut Tim Peake and the international space station, ISS
- Newton’s law of gravity and his work on the colours of light
- The Moon landings
- The Earth in comparison to the Sun
The children were especially fascinated by the comparison of sizes between the Earth and the Sun which was so effectively demonstrated by Helen. The Sun was shown as a round yellow emoji cushion and the children were asked to guess how big the Earth would be in comparison. Was it the size of a ping pong ball? Was it the size of a tennis ball? The children were absolutely enraptured when Helen brought out a small bead, no bigger than 5mm, to represent the scaled down size of the Earth.
After some lively discussion and many, many questions, the children moved on to creating pop up cards of transport and planets using pencils, felt tips, stickers, holographic paper and pictures. The class excelled at this, with students making beautiful cards combining the theme of ‘Journeys’ and space from the information Helen had provided. One child showed the journey to Saturn in their card with an image of the planet, other distant stars and a car and motorcycle.
In the afternoon, the creative activities were led by artists Christabel and Sehar. More children joined the class and we began the activity by experimenting with different materials, namely soft pastels and oil pastels. The class wasn’t afraid to get stuck in and use the materials in different ways, both layering, smudging and mixing colour to achieve varied effects. Christabel and Sehar then presented the children with an example of collage using marbled paper and the soft and oil pastels from earlier. The artists explained that the children could use all the different art materials to create one final piece incorporating the information about Space that they had learnt that day.
The class did not disappoint with their creativity and talent – some children choose an abstract route while others created 3 dimensional pieces. There were pictures of journeys to places like Big Ben in London and the desert. There were guides to the Milky Way and other galaxies beyond.
This workshop was both challenging and fulfilling in many ways. It was the first time the team had worked with a class of these SEN children and the time for both the science and art classes were quite short. In retrospect, it might have been better to work more intensely with a smaller group. On the other hand, seeing that children had prepared information for our workshop beforehand, and hearing about their excitement and how much they had learnt after the workshop from their teacher Anna Fadian was amazing. She said ‘I think our SEN children responded really well – the Power-point was appropriate and the creative side of the visit was great for the children’s learning. Thank you so much for your presentation and participation on this fabulous way of exploring science and art.’