Over the summer, our school faculty attended the Louisiana A+ Summer Institute to polish our A.I. skills and learn new and exciting ways to bring creativity into our classrooms. One session that impressed me was one introducing "Paper Pulp Paintings." I've noticed my students gravitation to hands-on learning models in the past and thought this would be a great way for them to express their understanding of a mathematical skill - in this case, scale and proportion - while creating something artistically tangible and challenging. Here is how we did it....
First, I collected as much colored construction paper as possible; even paper "scrapes" are useful. This makes the paper thrown in the recycle bin truly recyclable. Then, I sliced them up in to small squares and let them soak in water overnight in small Ziplock bags. I wanted the paper to get as mushy as possible before the next (fun!) step.
Next, the math. The students were giving a 1/2 sheet of cardstock (you want a solid base; regular copy paper will eventually disintegrate during our next steps) and ask them to create some strategic boxes dividing their area into proportional sections (see example below). I provided two models for students, the first being this simple design involving 4 dots, a circle with a heart inside of it, and a triangle (I later stressed the importance of choosing a similar "simple" design since this was their first PPP). As you can see in this model, the first 1/3 of the paper (green box) housed the entire design, then the second third (blue box) contained a "zoomed-in" slice of the original design. Finally the final third contained the design of smallest section (red box) of the original design.
Of course, during this process, the amazing 7th grade math teacher, Mrs. Middlebrooks, filled in the mathematical principles for the lesson, discussing the correlation of these images with fraction and scale drawing questions found on the PARCC exam. Finally, after all the students finished their designs and correct "zooms," we got to work. Every student received 2-3 paper pulp colors and a sponge, which they forcefully press down on the pulp, soaking up the moisture and essentially gluing it to the cardstock. The students then squeeze out the water from the sponge into a cup so they can continue arranging the pulp in accordance to their original designs.
The final result looks something like this:
7th grader students Coran and Andrelle completed their PPPs on the first day and showed them off for some LAA+ visitors:
If you are interested in my information about the Paper Pulp Paintings, please don't hesitate to contact me via e-mail (Philip.firstname.lastname@example.org). I want to give a HUGE shout-out to Janet Wolfe and Becky Roy for introducing this project to me for our students!