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EleMates, live from Atom City!

Science inspires great art, such as fireworks displays and kinetic (motion-based) sculptures. Even science fantasy inspires the visual arts, as artists design entire imaginary worlds. ElemMates' story is also inspired by science. In fact, it's based on the very building blocks of the real world. That is, ElemMates' personalities and looks reflect those of the real atomic elements that serve as their inspiration. Picture for a moment what an oxygen atom might look like if it were a person. In Atom City, Octavia Oxygen is a breath of fresh air with her adventurous energy, creative ideas, and windblown hair. Her friendliness makes everyone breathe easy! Carl Carbon, meanwhile, has jet black hair and sparkling teeth since carbon is the element in coal and diamonds.

Scientists use a chart called the Periodic Table as a way to organize the real chemical elements. So, in Atom City, city blocks are laid out based on the chart's grid lines, and empty spaces in the chart become parks and a river. Buildings and businesses relate to the element that would occupy the space on the periodic table represented by that city block on the Atom City map. Kids who attended the 2015 World Children's Festival entered Atom City through an online, interactive city map. They followed the ElemMates in their daily lives through videos and slide shows. Fired up by the stories, kids used paint and clay to create their own characters and adventures.

Imagine for a moment that you discover Atom City --an entire metropolis filled ElemMate friends. That's exactly what happened to Evie Sparks, our tween protagonist! An explosion on her town's beach rockets Evie into Atom City and leaves a beautiful garden to grow in her wake. In Atom City, Evie finds that the many parks are full of organic and crystal plants. With the ElemMate's help, Evie is able to repair the ozone shield and create an oasis in the Sahara Desert. The story led to a discussion of the large variety of real gardens, and workshop participants began painting fantasy gardens using their own ElemMates characters. You can try this at home. What will your garden look like? Gardens are wonderful, and very important to our food supply and ecosystem, but Atom City has even more to offer. It is a thriving, growing metropolis filled with industrious, entrepreneurial, cultural, entertaining, and athletic characters. Attendees on the second day of our workshop were introduced to some of the ElemMates characters with short slices of their lives. Kids saw how the characters' personalities mirror real elements' behavior with real chemical information about element properties and materials. By embarking on a city tour of fun destinations, the ElemMates explain how each element functions in our daily lives.

Think for a moment about the elements in your life. Where is our oxygen produced so that we have fresh air to breathe? What happens to the carbon we use to power our homes? How do we mine gems for the jewelry we wear and what effect does that have on our land? The children thought about the challenges facing Atom City and discussed ways to clean the Primordial River, direct radioactive energy for power usage, and maintain the ozone shield to keep out harmful rays. They then used paints, markers and clay to create new characters, tools and houses, expanding upon this fantasy world to create art inspired by science. What would your fantasy world look like? Would the characters in your city face the same challenges as Atom City or would they have their own obstacles to overcome? Can you create a painting or story to share your ideas?

By understanding the scientific foundation of the world around us and how different elements interact, we are better equipped to both address real life problems and create our own fantasy worlds with real or imagined elements. We would love to see what you come up with! If you have your parent's permission, you may post your ideas to the ChildArt Facebook page for other kids to see.

Leslie Wallant, creator of the ElemMates[TM] characters, is the author of Evie & the ElemMates.
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Author:Wallant, Leslie
Publication:ChildArt
Geographic Code:1U5DC
Date:Oct 1, 2015
Words:688
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