Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Musical Markers

I was excited to tell my 4th and 5th grade students about the Myrna Kaiser grant that I was recently awarded. In doing so I  gave them a few highlights of what the project will look like next Spring. Many were very excited about taking their art a step further and developing a performance competent. Although none of them had ever heard of the Makey-Makey.

Since I had mine at school, and I have already made my own set of Musical Markers, I took the opportunity to give them a quick introduction. We quickly discussed the difference between inductive and conductive materials. The basics of building a circuit, and I asked them to close the circuit I made with the Makey-Makey. 

They quickly realized that the paper the ground wire was connected to was inductive, and after a short brainstorm session discovered that by misting the paper with water, and the ground wire, that the circuit could completed. 

There are two videos below, the first is my students experimenting with the project, and the second is a tutorial on how to make your own set of Musical Markers. 

Make Your Own Musical Markers

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Junior BotBall Challenge Grant

Last Friday I received the official notice that I have been awarded the Junior BotBall Challenge Grant from the Oklahoma State Education Department. I already had my robot kit from a workshop I attended earlier in the school year, but it is nice to have the grant finally cleared. The email was perfectly timed since the BotBall team attended our first Regional Event last Thursday.

What makes Junior BotBall different from other robot building competitions is the students are competing only against themselves. There were about 18 challenges at the event, and each team tries to complete as many of them as they can in one day. The basic challenges are the same from one event to another, so as I team finishes one, they do not have to repeat at the next event.

Unlike the ArtBots that you can find on my blog, these robots are more sophisticated, and much more complicated to use. The black box is actually a small computer, that we save our programs to, and that runs the robot. Junior BotBall uses C program language to write the code that controls the bot. 

Which means, we first had to teach basic coding skills, and how to understand the syntax for the C language. Once students had an understanding, they were able to start writing code,and completing challenges.  

Here is an example of a challenge. 

Each blue section was a different challenge to complete. This was taken at the end of the day. The table area across is called Pit Row, and each team acts as a Pit Crew for their bot. 

A member of our Junior BotBall team hard at work taking notes, and writing code for their next challenge. 

Here is a sample of the code that controls the robot.
The program is written in C Language. 

The sponsor for the last event, and another resources for BotBall grants. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Myrna Kaiser Art Classroom Grant

The beginning of the year I spent quite a bit of time writing grants, and all that hard work is paying off. I was notified at the beginning on November that my proposal for the Myrna Kaiser Art Classroom grant had been approved, and it being fully funded!!

Weaving with a Tech Twist

This project will have two main goals; the first is to connect students to other cultures through learning about their art. Students will study and learn about the Navajo and explore their art of weaving.  My classroom does not have looms or basic weaving materials, so receiving supplies from Blick Art Materials will be crucial to completing this unit of study.

The second goal is to turn the students' weavings into an interactive art experience. This second goal is part Science and part Technology. While weaving students will add in pieces of aluminum foil (have in stock) to several sections of their project, this will turn each art work into part of a circuit. Using a device called a Makey-Makey (already have), students will be able to connect their fiber art to a computer through a series of wires. The circuits will then be built, but not functional.  The last step will be to close the circuit. Students or other members of the community will hold one wire, while touching each weaving. This will close each circuit, on contact and the computer will play a musical or spoken word audio recording. This is completely safe; there is no shock to completing the circuit. All you have to do is lightly touch the wire and the foil and music will play. Each work of art will play a different melody, or word. Allowing each performance to be completely customized, which creates a constantly changing experience each time someone closes the loop.

Here is the inspiration for this project.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Betty Bradstreet Grant

I received some very exciting news this week! My proposal to the Assistance League of Tulsa's Betty Bradstreet grant was approved, and is being fully funded.

My proposal is for a 3D printer, and a Desktop 3D Scanner!

Here is the proposal I submitted.

      As an Art Educator it is our job to survey the world of art, this constant changing organism that is laid out before us. We hunt for the pulse, we search to find the beat of the ever rushing vein of inspiration, that path which will elevate our students onward. We strive to not only encourage imaginative play, but to find the hook that will make them successful in the life.

      In doing so I find myself reevaluating my goals, where I thought my program would head, vs. the natural growth it has taken. I love teaching art, I also love technology and it has been a constant goal to merge the two as much as possible. Our students live in an age where technology affects almost everything they do. This year I want to make a huge jump with my art program. I am writing this proposal to obtain a 3D printer and 3D scanner for my room. These technologies will help bridge the gap to preparing our students for life, whether in the art room or in a medical lab.

      Students in all grades, Pre-K to 5th, can take almost any art supplies such as paper, play dough, or even pipe cleaners to design a sculpture. Then, using the 3D scanner, students can create a complete 3D digitized image. With that digitized image, students will be able to use the 3D printer to create a duplicate. Once we learn the basic operation of the process I hope that we will be able to print material that can be used in mixed media, and not just duplicate projects.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


ArtBots are an easy introduction to STEAM. They are very simple to make, and touch on Science: Circuits, Movement, Balance; Engineering: Designing and building the robot; Technology, and Art. ArtBots can be used incorporation with Project-Based Learning.   

Like many art teachers I try to make some time to look for new ideas for my art program. There are several blogs that I often look at, many which are listed on the left side of my site. I also search the massive collective that Pinterest has to offer. I like to vary what I am looking for from different mediums, cross-curriculum projects, and technology. 

At some point during the past year I stumbled upon ArtBots and BristleBots (that is another post). I don't remember the first time I saw one, but I do remember wanting to try it out. They are a perfect blend of Science, Technology, and Art. And come on we are talking about robots!

#DotDay15 ArtBot Video

ArtBots Supply List

ArtBots are not completely free, but you can make them with little cost. Best of all you can use them again and again.

  • Most materials are easy to collect.
  • Reuse containers to save on cost.
  • Get creative with electronics.


  • Old motors
  • Electric Toothbrush (Dollar Store)
  • Personal Fan (Dollar Store)
  • Video Game Controls
  • Pagers
  • Radioshack (Can get pricey)
  • Anything that spins or shakes.

  • Batteries
  • Tape
    • Masking
    • Duct
  • Pool Noodle or container
  • Markers
  • Rubber Bands
  • Wire
  • Aluminum Foil


  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Wiggly Eyes
  • Buttons, etc.
  • Scrap Paper


By adding an eccentric or off center weight to the motor you make it shake. That rocking motion allows our bots to draw. 

If you weight is to small, your bot will not dance, if it is to heavy, your motor will not spin.

Here are some images from my latest builds, and from the last workshop I taught.

In this video I am explaining one of my ArtBot creations.

ther Resources

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

OAEA Fall Conference

This year my school is sending me to the Oklahoma Art Education Association (OAEA) Fall conference on Sept. 11th-12th. I am very excited to attend since I have not had an opportunity to go since I started teaching. I have been to other state conferences since I headed down the path of becoming an art teacher, but not OAEA.

This year's conference will be hosted by Cameron University in Lawton, OK. The theme this year is DIY: Designing your life, studio, classroom, curriculum....the possibilities are endless. It looks like it will be a great event, I am already looking forward to several of the classes, and talking to other art educators. 

After teaching my STEAM workshop this past summer I was encouraged to submit my class as a proposal for this year's gathering. I am please to announce that my submission was accepted and I will be leading a workshop called STEAM: ArtBots.

Here is a little preview of what I will be teaching to everyone. 

Thank You Mr. Joslin for letting me attend, and thank you Mayo Foundation for covering the cost of the conference.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Radiating Art Display

A new year has started for the Art Lab, and with that comes new ideas. I have been thinking all last year about what I could do better or different for this school year. If something is working great I say leave it alone, but check in every so often to see if it needs updated.

One of my big plans for this school year is to start a Art Parent Volunteer program. As art teachers we know that there is so much to do, and very little free time in our rooms to get it done. I am hoping to have the Art Parents help hang artwork through out the school, and help keep it rotated on a regular basis. I am also hoping that some will be able to help during the school day on big projects, or assisting with supplies and the student art organization.

To help attract parents to the my room during our Back to School night, I decided to make an eye catching display in the art case by the office. I placed QR codes on the glass, redirecting parents to a Google Form on this blog.

It worked by the way, I had several parents sign up at the Mayo Mingle (meet and greet before school starts), and I hope to have more sign up at our upcoming Back to School night.

Here is the Art Display.

The white rectangles at the bottom are random boxes that I covered with white kraft paper. I use them through out the year as stands in the show case. The letters are wood, and can be found at most craft stores. Lastly all of the cut stripes of paper are from my No Name Bin from last year. I will explain my procedures for no name art later.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Free to Cheap Ideas for STEAM Integration

This past Spring I was asked to teach a workshop for art teachers showing ways to integrate technology. When I was asked I was just finishing up a collaboration project with the School of Art at the University of Tulsa. For that Digital Art/TURC class we were working with a select number of fourth and fifth graders from my school Mayo Demonstration. We had several goals for the group among them were teaching healthy eating habits, portraiture, sculpture, and ultimately showing them how to use Adobe Illustrator.

I say all of that because when I was asked to teach workshop this summer I instantly went to Adobe in my mind, along with other computer/device based applications. I started making a list, and knew I wanted to include some new tech gadgets I have been drooling over the past few years. So my focus of my class became free or inexpensive ways to integrate technology into the art room, besides buying a new device or computer.

I showcased 4 technologies, Squishy Circuits, Makey-Makey, ArtBots, along with Google Cardboard, but I include a ton more in my presentation. Which you can find below

The class was a great success, many of the amazing Art Educators of Tulsa Public Schools were in attendance, along with several tech savvy Librarians, and a few classroom teachers. I have submitted a proposal to teach a similar class at the upcoming OAEA 2015 Fall Conference, I will find out soon if my session has been selected for the catalog.

If you like the theme I used for my Google Slide presentation check out this awesome resource,

Technology for the Arts Presentation - Google Slides

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Excitement and Dirty Underside of Website Creation

This is the new website/blog for my art room. I started one at my old school, but the suggested WYSIWYG from my site's webmaster was way to clunky. Not her fault, it was the one that my district had obtained for teachers to create websites. It was somewhat functional as long as you wanted to keep things extremely simple, and not attempt to add any pictures. As you can guess, a website with no images is very boring. Since I use to design and build website in my past career I became very annoyed, and eventually abandon the attempt. While part of me yearns for to have the full design control of my site, I have to be realistic. I am an Art Educator. I know how busy I stay all day long at school, then you have after school meetings, district meetings, and then family time. I really need the best solution for fast updates, and easy management. I use WordPress for my personal art website, but I noticed that many (as in almost 90%) Art Educators are using Blogger. I explored many different options, WordPress, Weebly, Wix, Google Sites, and eventually landed on Blogger. And here is why. WordPress is great, I am extremely familiar with its operation. For my personal art website/portfolio, I own the domain name, pay for hosting and use WordPress for my site management software, layout, and design. It is fantastic, but I am excluded from every single automatic blogroll on other sites. I know because I have tried to get my personal site listed. That is annoying. Although my biggest reason for choosing Blogger is my school district is in the beginning stages of doing a massive switch to Google for Education.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

ArtLab Focus


The way I approach teaching art to students is to focus on first on Art History. We will look at art that has been created through out time, studying individual artist, movements, or ancient civilizations. Students learn more about the different materials used, the emphasis of the work, the use of principles and elements of art, and the life of the artists. We also must realize that art does not just happen, but that art is a response to events, emotions, and sometimes unforeseen circumstances surrounding creative individuals.

In effort to understand the why, we have to bring other content areas of education. Students will study aspects of Math, Science, Language, and Social Studies to help fill in the blanks. With the introduction of Math and Science, I am hoping to bring more STEAM based lessons into my classroom. I am currently working on bringing in new technology into my art room. Hopefully soon students will be able to make both traditional art, along with digital art, opening up new exciting future possibilities.

6-Year Plan

I hope to move my program to in a direction that allows for easier integration of technology, creating parts of the curriculum to be more, if not all STEAM based. I will need additional industry standard technology devices, and software to allow students to start creating digital art, and to make connections to engineering. I also plan to continue the current study of art history, and traditional mediums such as drawing, painting, printmaking, and ceramics.

ArtLab Wish List

The art room always welcomes donations of your “junk”… if you happen to have any of these items to spare, drop them off on your way in, or in my mailbox at the office.

  • Newspapers (all year) for everything
  • Styrofoam trays (any size) for printing.
  • Metal Cookie
  • Legos
  • Building Blocks
  • Electronics (pagers, video game controllers, electric toothbrushes)
  • Old dish towels or rags
  • Paper grocery bags
  • Egg Cartons
  • Wine Corks
  • Plastic containers with lids
  • Magazines (kid appropriate)
  • Craft items (ribbon, buttons, beads, fabric, etc.)
  • Old blenders
  • Wood Scraps

A good rule of thumb… If you’re about to throw it out or give it away, ask “Could the art room use this?” Chances are, we probably can.

Thank you for all your past and future donations!