Class Notes January 28, 2011

   This week we invented some probability games with large dice, and tried some old standard risk-reward games like Pig and Shut the Box. They enjoyed and experienced the varied number possibilities in the big room, in space, in continually-changing social configurations.
   Using compass and ruler, we drew a 24 division of a circle, and then drew diagonals from each point to every other point. The effect was stunning, and the work was fun and compelling for the students. They very much enjoy doing what seems difficult, and appreciate the truthfulness of Geometric drawing.
   We followed that work up with a some beginning exercises in Perspective. I seated them in chairs diagonally across the big room, and then had each student stand near the front of the receding line and make observations. Then I asked them to try and draw what they saw. They struggled, which put them in nearly the same boat as pre-Renaissance artists, who had no system, math or science for drawing perspective. I gave them all their own ruler and we went back and they measured, using their ruler at arm’s length and their thumb the heights of each child in their field of vision. Then we went outside. The observer stood on the pile of snow and the children spread themselves out in a reasonably straight line across the long field. Using the same ruler method they measured around 11 inches for the nearest child, to a pretty consistent 1/2 inch for the most distant child, no matter how tall they were up close. ( they rotated positions)  Using our largest to smallest dimensions we were able to determine a horizon and vanishing point for their drawings. It was just a beginning, but leads very nicely into a look at some of the revelations of the Renaissance.
   We continued cutting and assembling our Suspension Bridge models. We used a big compound-miter chop saw to make multiple cuts, and then started assembling the parts using screws and drills, hammers and nails, rasps and surforms. We were ostensibly modeling this model on the Suspension bridge near the Johnson art museum, a stunning example of the physics and audacity of the concept. However I’ve found a much better-suited example, that mirrors our models more closely and is much more approachable from a study perspective. It would be great if I could take the whole group to see this bridge on Tuesday.

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