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Resource Evaluation Resource Reference: http://artsedge.kennedycenter.org/educators/lessons/grade5/Alexander_Calder_Master_of_Balance Lesson Description: Grade: 5-8th Grade

Summary: Through this art project, students will learn about the function of levers. Through exploring sculptor Alexander Calder’s mobiles, students will have a better understanding of the function of levers. The students build a simplified mobile, experimenting with balancing levers, and finding equilibrium. Objectives: “Students will: ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Name the functions and parts of a lever. Understand the difference between the three types of levers. Differentiate between potential and kinetic energy. Study and interpret the mobiles of Alexander Calder. Make connections between science and sculpture. Build a simplified mobile. Balance objects by changing and moving objects on a lever (simplified mobile).” (Ewald)

Materials: The materials needed are the worksheets provided by the website, wire, paper, and plastic.

Instructional Procedures: Per the website, the instructional Procedures are as follows: “ENGAGE 1. Introduce a simple machine called a lever. Explain that levers are often used to do work with less effort, such as lifting heavy objects. Draw an image of or visit a see-saw on the playground. Use the see-saw to point out or demonstrate the following vocabulary: ●

Fulcrum: a fixed point

Load: weight on one arm of the lever

Effort: force applied to move the other arm of the lever


Equilibrium: balance when the load and effort are equal

2. Discuss the three types of levers. Project or hand out Lever Worksheet #1 that can be found within the Resource Carousel. Explain the three types of levers. Act out or use props to demonstrate each type if necessary. 3. Have students explore the three types of levers. In pairs, student should continue to read and investigate more about the three types of levers. Then, they should complete Lever Worksheet #2. If possible, bring in objects or photos that correspond to the ones listed on the worksheet. Use the Lever Worksheet #2 Answer Key provided to review Lever Worksheet #2 with the class. BUILD KNOWLEDGE

1. Explain the relationship between levers and mobiles. Explain that a mobile is a cascade of levers. Each lever is suspended from above and has objects or other levers suspended from its ends. 2. Show the sample mobile you made to the class. Point out how the mobile is made up of a series of levers in equilibrium. Levers and objects hanging from mobiles are placed so that all parts of the mobile are balanced. Point out the fulcrums and arms of the levers. 3. Demonstrate potential and kinetic energy on a mobile. Explain how a mobile has potential energy when it is still. Demonstrate and discuss how potential energy converts to kinetic energy by lightly blowing on the mobile and vice versa when there is no air current. 4. Have students explore the concepts behind building a mobile. Students should create virtual mobiles by arranging and rearranging objects to try and find a balance. 5. Project or display images of the mobiles of Alexander Calder. Show images of hishanging mobiles and standing mobiles. Explain that mobiles are kinetic sculptures—three-dimensional works that include moving elements and a balance of objects. Note how the objects appear to float in space. 6. Discuss how mobiles are a form of art. Elicit from students what they like or dislike about Calder’s work, and why. Ask students what comes to mind when looking at the mobiles. Show Calder’s Constellation, 1943 mobile, but do not reveal the title of the work. Ask students what they think the piece is titled and why. After some discussion, reveal the title, and ask students if they think Calder was effective in communicating a constellation. 7. Have students explore the work of Alexander Calder. Explain to students that Calder’s mobiles were informed and inspired by his knowledge of physics, mathematical concepts, the cosmos, and astronomy. Before Calder enrolled in art school, he had received his mechanical


engineering degree, a decision influenced by his fascination with construction and mechanical apparatuses and machines. APPLY

Students will practice balancing a simplified mobile. Provide a visual demonstration and verbal instructions for the steps below. 1. Build the arm of the mobile. Students should tie a string around the middle of a ruler (this may need to be taped to the ruler to hold it in place). Tie or tape the loose end of the string to a sturdy place, such as the edge of a desk, so that the ruler is dangling in mid-air. 2. Attach cups to the mobile. Using scissors or a pen, poke a hole in the rim of a paper cup, insert a string through the hole and knot it so that end stays in the hole. Do the same to the other paper cup (using the same size string). Tie the loose ends of the strings so that each cup is hanging from a different end of the ruler. 3. Balance the mobile. Place various amounts of small objects in the cups in an effort to find equilibrium. Encourage students to experiment with the position of the fulcrum, the weight of the loads in the paper cups, and the lengths of the strings. 4. Make observations. Students should complete the Mobiles Worksheet, that can be found within the Resource Carousel, as they experiment and take notes on what happens as they alter factors in their mobiles. REFLECT

1) Using their notes from the Mobile Worksheet, ask students to share their findings.Discuss the following: ●

What was challenging about finding the proper balance?

What did they notice about changing the position of the fulcrum?

What did the notice about altering the weight of the loads?

What did they notice about changing the lengths of the strings?”

Lesson Evaluation:

Developmental Appropriateness: Students at this age have the fine motor skills to be able to do this activity. This is the age that students like to use metal and wire as part of an art activity. This type of project also does not play into the crisis of realism and forces students to think outside of it.


Appropriateness of Art Objectives: The art objectives are appropriate. The art objectives focus mostly on the lever, which they would be studying in school, but the ones that are more art related fit to be age appropriate. The student has the fine motor skills for this project and is applied to the National Standards for Arts Education Standard 2. Potential for Integration with other Subjects: This lesson plan is already set up for integration with math and science. It is focusing on levers, which is part of physics education. Sensitivity to Diversity Issues: Students who need help with fine motor skills may have problems with this project. I think I would counter this by having the whole class pair up with someone and work on this project as a group. This provides the students who need help with fine motor skills can be paired with someone without feeling singled out. Potential to Engage and Motivate Learners: This project helps create a visual to a concept that is being learned in physics/science class. This helps engage the students because they are seeing a real world example. Engages Studio Thinking Habits of Mind (which ones are addressed and how): This project engages different Studio Thinking Habits of MInd. It engages “Develop Craft” by working with materials like wire. It engages “Envision” because this is not a flat project and requires some picturing mentally. It engages “Observe” because students will look at the mobiles and see the levers that are used in the project. It engages “Stretch and Explore” because the students have to play around with the equilibrium of the mobile. Practicality and Safety: It does have some safety concerns. Working with wires has the potetial for injury. That being said, I feel the materials in this project are something an art teacher could have or could get fairly easily. Attach any images or supplementary materials.

Objective2 artifact resourceeval  
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