December 2014 Class Notes

Measurement – our measurement studies in December included:

Dry Measure – Using fruit, vegetables and grain we studied market measure, pints and quarts of berries, ½ pecks and pecks, bushels of apples, barrels of grain, bales of cotton and tobacco, bales of straw vs. hay and wagonloads. Also dry measure in teaspoon, tablespoon, cups, for flour and spices.
Liquid Measure – Using many  cooking and baking measures of varied sizes, we filled gallons of water using 1/3 teaspoons, tablespoons, ½ cups, cups, pints, quarts, etc. getting our hands wet and experiencing the differences in measure. We also studied firkins and caldrons and barrels and the old wine measures.
Distance Land – Starting with the old style measures using the human body, i.e., the digit, the palm, the hand, the cubit, the Biblical cubit, the common pace, the military pace, we discovered that everyone in the class came up with different measurements for objects in the room and the distance across it. We learned about the standard “ ruler “ Charlemagne demanded, and the story that 12 inches made one foot, the size of the King of England’s foot, the “ Ruler “.  The need for standardization became quickly apparent as arguments over goods and lands needed to be settled.
So we came to the inch, foot, yard, rod, chain, furlong, mile, league. Using rulers, yardsticks, tape measures and 100ft. Tape wheels the children measured all sorts of distances.
Nautical- We studied the fathom,  cable, nautical mile, nautical league, knots, 1/6 degree, etc. and discussed how these measures were used during the Age of Exploration.
Area – We discussed acreage, people’s yards or land,  square numbers, survey maps, the Holland Land Company. ( I’d like to take them to the Assessors map office where my friend Jay works to look at maps, and if allowed, to the County Clerks office to look at old deeds in large books, written in chains and rods .)
As luck would have it, the tiles in the atrium in front of the studio are one square foot in size; so we measured the square footage in the atrium using the 100 foot tape, and the concept of square feet was visible and clear, right before our eyes.
Cloud Formations – We studied the various cloud formations found at different altitudes, and their configurations and properties.
Wind Speed- Nautical Beaufort Scale -We wrote up as a table the colorful and descriptive wind speed table developed by Admiral Beaufort for sailors.
Water Temperature for Fish – we wrote up a table listing many common species of fish and the water temperature ranges they are most commonly found in.
Value – Bartering, Trade, Monetary Systems – We looked at the various ways humans traded and measured the value of goods and commodities, and the development of monetary systems.
Currency Comparison Tables – Ruble Falling – The students looked at and saw how different currencies were holding a comparative value, currently, as in that one day. ( We didn’t discuss nano, high-speed trading ). They all wanted to go to where they could get 12,500 rupiahs for a dollar, and buy stuff. We discussed the collapsing ruble, and the falling oil prices, and they began to understand how volatile some of these systems could be; and how the value of things can change.

Cemetery, Celtic Cross – The cemetery between university and Stewart Ave. is a complex, fascinating place, rich in histories, headstones, mausoleums, and magnificent trees.  One large Celtic Cross was full of intricate braiding patterns that we sat and tried to draw.
Cascadilla Gorge-  We hiked once to the first bend in the gorge and drew what we saw. The next excursion we hiked the entire way up the refurbished gorge trail, stopping many times to observe, all the way up to Collegetown, and then back down through the neighborhood and E.Seneca Street.
Stewart Point  Atmospheric Drawing Trip –  We hiked in behind the Boat Club to the point and sat on logs looking out  north at the foreground, middle ground and distant treed background across the expanse of lake. We observed the distinct shapes, light and shadow contrasts in the foreground steadily muted as the vision went back through middle ground of lake waves, geese and trees, then back to the uniform, grey, muted hill in the distance.
Cass Park Measurement trip – We all walked the  hiking, fitness trail from the Cass Park playground, along the inlet to the boat launch and back. We all (those who didn’t lose count!) had a different number of paces, further reinforcing the need for standard measurement.
Osprey Point Drawing Class – After a wonderful walk past the Osprey nest on the knoll we went to the shore to draw driftwood and then walked back to draw the marina and Cornell towers in the distance.
Treman Park Playground trip
Buttermilk Falls Playground trip – After some strenuous academic mornings studying the Renaissance, and the history of Mathematics, we would take the kids to the new playground at lower Treman and at Buttermilk Falls park. The playground at Buttermilk was designed by my former co-worker, designer, organizer at Leathers and Assoc. Architects, Steve Lauzan.  Steve branched out on his own and slowly grew his PG design company. His dynamic, creative, inclusive designs are now in parks and communities all over the country. It was great to see the children playing on structures sprung from a mind I knew.
Six Mile Creek Water Drawing – We are lucky to have a wonderful, dynamic body of moving water just outside our back door and across the street. Often we go there to skip rocks, make rock sculptures, or to draw, through careful observation, the movement of water.
Henry St. John Playground Recesses – We often go there for a short break to climb around, have snack or lunch and play games. It’s just a few minute walk from our class.

Fine Art projects –  We’ve worked on geometric drawing, using compass, ruler and colored pencils, exploring various configurations of circles spirals, logarithmic spirals, triangles, squares and complex polygons. We  also did colored rubber band drawings on twenty four division of a circle boards made by previous Finnstituters.
The children loved doing oil pastel paintings, where they cover the entire page with color so it’s painting not drawing; they asked to continue and didn’t stop for snack.
We’ve done some work with pen and ink, a form that requires attention to detail, constant dipping and cleaning; and a quiet peacefulness that comes over the group. We will continue this skill and expand into printmaking.
Using the floor to ceiling blackboards we’ve done drawings of Michelangelo’s Moses statue; Form Drawing where we work on repeating patterns; the children love the mirroring exercises where one child tries to follow a pattern created on one side of a vertical line using curved and straight lines. We’ve also created windows on the board which the children fill in with their own views their own imaginations, recollections, explorations.
We did quick sketch studies of the children in an active pose for one minute or two minutes.
One Creative Writing class built out of grammar studies evolved into a silent story-writing classroom that lasted an hour, in peaceful, earnest concentration. Was I dreaming?
Another class had the children sitting at the big window writing down notes and sketches of the occasional person or groups of people walking by just below. The children were fascinated by this, and got very good at making quick notes on clothing, mannerisms, and speculation about their destinations or character.

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