Today was another early start. We got to the school sleepy eyed and ready to make the large data maps with the groups. Starting well with the first group (atmospheric pressure) they seemed to get the maps although the concept of interpreting the numbers from the data into felt symbols was a bit confusing for them.
Method of interpretation:
1. Created a scale of 1 – 10 for each dataset (temperature, humidity, decibels, atmospheric pressure, light)
2. Ask 80 children to choose a number on the scale based on their memory, experience, what they see and feel in the forest
3. Add all the numbers together for each dataset
4. Calculate the percentage for each dataset e.g. the children collectively decided that the humidity was 20% in the forest
5. Create a data map interpreting the data calculation, using symbols and colours from work they did with Silvia earlier in the year
6. Layout the symbols on a circle of felt based on the digital visualisation we had created.
The activity reflected the interdisciplinary nature of the project to encourage cross-curriculum learning, working with maths, science, environment and art.
What worked best for me was the way the children worked together in groups, negotiated and led the process. We ended up having all 40 as the they didn’t have a teacher that day and set them up around the van to continue working on the maps as each new group did the introduction.
One of my favourite moments was when I was helping one girl cut leaves out (for the light map), she was watching me to copy what I was doing and I asked her in my terrible Portuguese what size to make it and that it was what she wanted not how I wanted it to be (which involves strange noises, pointing and waving, some Spanish, French and an occasional word of the actual language – which the children found hilarious). She gave me a massive smile and explained how she wanted it to look and said she really liked the leaf I had made with real pride. Another great moment was when some of the other children came up and asked me what the sensor kit in the tree was. I said I was an English artist working in the school but I couldn’t speak Portuguese and some of the children we were working with rushed to explain the whole process to them with incredible enthusiasm, pointing out the visualisation.
Silvia said that some of the other children asked her what was happening and she said that the tree was talking to a tree in England, they all laughed at her so she asked our group if she was telling the truth and they all very seriously nodded their heads and said yes of course with total conviction in the concepts of the project.
After we finished we were completely exhausted, we returned to the flat and I spent a lovely couple of hours in the hammock reading whilst Silvia popped to her Dads house. I then began the laborious process of sticking the symbols to the maps.
A wonderful meal across from Copacabana beach with Silvia and her mum, with the smell and sounds of the Atlantic Ocean (with the UK just across the water – and up a bit). Going to Copacabana and Ipanema makes me want to pinch myself, the names evoke such a Hollywood image of fantasy tropical world, I can’t believe I am here and working with such a wonderful project such as EME.