Magazine article Technology & Learning

Stained Glass and Quilt Patterns

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Stained Glass and Quilt Patterns

Article excerpt

Stained Glass and Quilt Patterns

You wouldn't ordinarily think that a history lesson on Renaissance and Medieval art would lend itself to computer graphics applications. But according to art teacher Joan Kay at Poughkeepsie Day School in Poughkeepsie, NY, the computer is just the tool for the job.

Last year, fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders at Poughkeepsie Day, an independent private school with around 170 students, were given the assignment of designing their own stained-glass window patterns, based on the historical examples they had studied in class. Rather than working with the traditional tissue or construction paper, students used the Amiga to develop their patterns. "Because the computer screen is illuminated from the back, similar to the way stained glass is ordinarily viewed, students were able to develop a real feeling for the design," explains Kay.

A pretty sophisticated project for young students? Well, yes. But bear in mind that these students were introduced to the computer as early as nursery school. "I'm the one who starts them off," says Joan Scott, Poughkeepsie Day School's librarian and a close colleague of Kay's. Scott takes small groups of two to four preschoolers and introduces them to the different features of the computer--text generation, speech, and so forth--a piece at a time, "in a natural way." They react "very enthusiastically," she says.

Scott and Kay began their work together after inheriting several Amigas from a music teacher who went through the process of developing a grant and acquiring funds to purchase the hardware, then left the school. Though Scott had never touched a computer before, she took an Amiga home over Christmas break and began developing what is now a multidisciplinary computer art curriculum integrated into a team effort with the history department.

"We keep things a little loose," explains Kay, "so there's lots of room for free expression. …

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