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Lines in space.

As I watched the room fill with linear structures made from white straws and the focused students hard at work, I knew I was on the rigth track. Middle school students need opportunities to build and construct. Often teachers shy away because they don't know which materials to use or because of cost considerations. This project requires few materials but allows for a clear opportunity to think three-dimensionally.

The project was centered on balance and form. Symmetrical and asymmetrical balance was discussed and form was defined by architectural concepts of lines in space. The structure of these forms was highlighted by the definition of planes which were established by the addition of white paper shapes. There was freedom to experiment, organize shapes and think big.

In middle school, there is a need to direct large quantities of student energy. Structuring an assignment with a few concrete limitations can push students in new directions and allow for creativity as well as self-expression. I started with a 4" x 6" (10 cm x 15 cm) piece of ak tag to be used as a base. The base was not meant to be permanent, but was merely a point of departure. The white paper craft straws used are 16" (41 cm) long. Each student was permitted to attach only three to five straws to the base. A small quantity of white glue works best and is preferable to any other glue. The structure was also limited in height to the length of one 16" (41 cm) straw. When this project was finished the structures were hung from the ceiling panels. This gave a clear view of each structure and was a safe exhibition space.

I was looking for an assignment that would enhance the students' knowledge and ability to conceptualize three-dimensionally. I was also aiming to have the project reflect the spare and simple quality of much contemporary architecture.

Ken Vieth teaches art at Montgomery Middle School, Skillman, New Jersey.
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Title Annotation:3D art
Author:Vieth, Ken
Publication:School Arts
Date:Mar 1, 1992
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