This past year has been difficult for many reasons, but for many kids, a main struggle has been moving to a completely virtual education. Hands on learning is invaluable, and our project will provide science/art kits that include multiple interactive activities about perception aimed at 4th grade to middle school aged kids. Our three Kohler team members deal with perception in their research, from the physical to the metaphysical aspects. We are eager to share the knowledge of perception in a form allowing kids to engage with the science in a creative way. The topic of perception is critical for both the arts and sciences, as both are based around how we perceive the world around us. In addition to the kits, we will form a blog space on the WID website that will serve as a space for kids and their families to share their experiences with the activities, as well allow us to post more information about perception – like interviews with science and art professionals in fields that relate to the kit activities.
The kits will touch on different disciplines of science (physics, biology, psychology) under a common theme: perception. The activities will be broken into three main categories: the science of light, how our eyes function, and how we perceive the world. At least one activity in these categories allows the kids to make a craft that should take more than 20 minutes and they will be able to keep or display. For each activity, we will provide written materials, including instructions and explanations of the science. The instructions will be fashioned like a science journal, where for each activity, the kids can write down what they think will happen and their observations. They can then compare their hypothesis to the science.
The blog space will ultimately serve as a kind of gallery for participants to share their creations. The instructions will prompt them to send us photos, video, or written testimonies about their activities. For example, in the reflections activity with curved surfaces, we can ask them to draw their own distorted image that, after reflecting on the cured mirror, will be a normal image. We can specifically ask them to post an image of what they made! We will encourage families to do this by offering a second kit to the first 100 people to share their experiences with new activities about color.
Additionally for this blog, we will interview professional scientists and artists who represent the ideas of perception in an interdisciplinary way. We will post these to the blog to supplement the other material.
Lastly, we want to gauge how well the kids learned the educational information from the kits. We will do this in two ways: asking them to make an educated guess to the science behind the activity and also testing them at the end about what they learned. The first method will be available for them to do through the website, where we will have a place for the kids to input their thoughts about each activity, hopefully allowing them to draw or take pictures of what they think will happen too. The latter method will be a short test they can take through the website that will quiz them on the basic concepts of the kits.
Our goal is to provide kits to at least at least 150 kids in the Madison area that allow them to explore the science of perception through engaging artistic activities. We want at least a 25% blog-engagement rate, meaning that at least 40 people respond with images/text/videos of their projects for us to post to the blog. Additionally, we want at least a 25% educational-engagement rate, meaning that at least 40 people take an educational quiz at the end to share what they learned in the activities, and we want their total average score to be above 80%. And lastly, we want to share at least 3 interviews with professionals who embody the art-science fusion aspect of perception and share them on the blog.
Everyone knows that they perceive the world, but they may not know all the science behind it. Our kits will help kids explore these concepts through engaging and fun art activities. This will all be exhibited on our blog site, where we will foster an engaging and sharing space. This is an exciting project that will have a tremendous impact on the youth in Madison, especially during these trying times.