Paint Catapult!

Hey … I didn’t know you could make art by flying paint through the air!

In thinking about this wondrous group of children and reflecting on their work in the studio and classroom over the past month or so, I began to think about how much this group is a community of children who live in verbs. Both as individuals and as a community, my mind often touches upon how these children embody ACTION. This caused me to wonder about the classroom interest in simple machines and I discussed with the White Room teachers the possibility of their interest being more about using something that creates action and less about the construct or design. I also thought about their recent investigation of castles and remembered the conversations the children had about drawbridges, catapults, and trebuchets. I decided to create a simple catapult; one that would afford the children the opportunity to use BIG ACTION, both with using the catapult itself, and also, reflect that action by the colors mixing on the board.

First, the children needed to think about and test the power they needed to expel and how quickly they needed to move in order to get the paint onto the board. Many attempts fell short and just as many shot the paint high over the easel set up. Soon, the children learned to temper their actions to get the results they desired. The children also discovered that the viscosity of the paint determined how far and how easily the paint could be thrown. They experimented with adding different amounts of water to see what would happen.

After noticing that the paint did not quite make it to the easel, one student says, “I’ll add more water so it slips out more easy!”

Student: Here it goes, everybody! Stand back! You say, ‘CATAPULT READY!’
Student: CATAPULT READY! And, look out!
The first student uses the catapult and paint flies high in the air and onto the tree branches behind them.
Student: Wow! Jada, you’re strong!

The last group of students spent some time discussing and exploring the catapult before adding paint. They moved it up and down, checked out the aiming systems, and tried moving it from both ends. One discovered that she could always get the results she wanted (contact with the board and a high arch of paint) if she stood from the back and held the catapult underneath the paint cup and that she could easily maintain the force needed. The other children observed her closely and decided to adopt her method.

Refleciton by Kelly Blondin, Art Specialist and Pedagogista