One of the ways I could integrate content into making is by using an open-ended student-driven project. (Vanderwerff, 2014) I spent some time trying to think of a math related project that I could share with you, but could not come up with one that is appropriate for high school level content with short notice, so I am cheating and proposing a project that I have used a few times in my photography class.
A good prompt for a project should have the following three criteria: brevity, ambiguity, and immunity to assessment. (Martinez, 2016) So, the prompt for my student’s project would be “Make a pinhole camera that you can use to take a photo.” This is a project that would be introduced at the beginning of the school year. It is a great project because it is interdisciplinary in nature. Although it is a project that is assigned in photo class, there is content related to history, math, science, art, and of course photography. If you can create units that interdisciplinary they have the benefit of helping students apply skills, retrieve information quicker, grow an integrated knowledge base, and increase their depth and breadth of learning. (Clayton, 2010).
There are eight elements to a good project: purpose and relevance, time, complexity, intensity, connection, access, shareability, and novelty. (Martinez, 2016) The pinhole camera project definitely has purpose, relevance, and novelty in a photography class. Making the camera operate properly will take time and be complex, as it takes several trials for the camera to operate without problems. The elements that make the camera operate correctly include the light tight nature of the material used to make the camera, and the optimal pinhole size to create the image on film/paper based on the distance to the film/paper. Pinhole cameras can be made from a variety of materials (wood, metal, cardboard, and prefabricated items such as aluminum soda can, oatmeal box, car, and building!)
The building used in this photo is an abandoned F-18 hangar in Irvine, CA. The image measures 111 feet my 32 feet. It is called “The Great Picture” (Swartz, 2014)
And here is a link to a video that shows Ian Ruhter making a pinhole camera from a delivery truck! You can create amazing cameras, all you need is imagination.
I feel this pinhole camera project does and will fulfill the 8 elements of a good project. The assessment component of this project is technically pass/fail, with the majority of projects being pass, if they work! If they don’t, the students need to modify their camera so it will operate correctly and take a photo. The students do learn quite a bit from this project. As stated, it will incorporate history, math, science, and art working in tandem. Students learn the history of camera fabrication, which does include the pinhole camera. The math component includes measurement, calculation, and time. The science component includes chemistry and physics. The art component is based on the creativity of materials used to make the camera, and actually photographing a subject with the camera (photography).
Martinez, Sylvia Libow; Stager, Gary S.. Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom (Kindle Location 1364). Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. Kindle Edition.
Vanderwerff, A. (2014). Makers in the Classroom: A How-To Guide. EdSurge. Retrieved from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2014-05-14-makers-in-the-classroom-a-how-to-guide
Clayton, M. et al (2010) Designing Multidisciplinary Integrated Curriculum Units. [PDF file]. Retrieved from https://www.connectedcalifornia.org/downloads/LL_Designing_Curriculum_Units_2010_v5_web.pdf
Swartz, J. (2014). World’s Largest Pinhole Camera takes World’s Largest Photo. ABC News, Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2014/05/worlds-largest-pinhole-camera-takes-worlds-largest-photo/