Skewers and Garden Poles

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Discussing Results (continued)

Questions about where skewers are being bent or pulled out of their taped joints help locate the tension and compression elements in these structures. Often, a long line of skewers at the top of a structure will be in tension and a long line of skewers along the bottom will be in compression (see illustration, previous page).

The following questions will help to elucidate the aesthetic qualities of a student's work:

  • Did you have a design or shape in mind before you started or did it evolve as you worked?

  • What pleases you most about the design of your structure? Why?

  • What other structures or places does your structure bring to mind?

  • What kind of feelings does your structure evoke? Does it suggest peace, tension, humor, or excitement?

  • Talk about how the use of balance and movement affects the feel of the structure.

  • Pick a good name for your structure.

    Discussing Scale Differences

    Finally, ask your students what was different in building cantilevers on the two different scales. How were they the same? The following questions can encourage further thinking and discussion:

  • Were there any surprises in going from one scale to another?

  • On which scale was it easier to work? Which was harder? In what ways?

  • What problems encountered were the same at both scales? What things did you have problems with at one scale but not the other?

  • What things did you learn on one scale that turned out not to be true on the other scale?

  • On which scale did cantilevers twist to the side most? Why do you think this was so?

  • On which scale were structures easier to keep from drooping? Why do you think this was so?

  • On which scale were structures more rigid? On which more floppy?

  • On which scale did the taped joints hold together best? Why do you think this was so?

  • How is the "feel" of the large cantilever different from that of the small cantilever?

  • What is it about the small and large cantilevers that create a different reaction or impression in the viewer?

    After a good deal of discussion, a simple demonstration is helpful. Tape four skewers together with overlapped joints to form a piece about 24 inches long. Tape four garden poles together with overlapped joints to form a piece about 14 feet long. Now try to hold these pieces out rigidly from the end of a table. The skewers will stay fairly rigid. The garden poles will droop significantly. Ask your students to connect this to what they saw in their structures.

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