Learn something new everyday:

Take Your Learning Outdoors--Forest Kindergartens

Many parents are beginning to realize that the structured academics of traditional classrooms are not as beneficial to their children’s’ education as other styles of learning. Rather a strong connection with the natural world can enhance and improve our learning in the classroom.

Hence, the invention of Forest schools has given children the opportunity for just that—kids learn in classrooms, but also have a great exposure to exploration and freedom by having recess session in forests and other natural areas. Children play outside, rain or shine, with little supervision. The idea is that the children are allowed to connect with the natural world because their brains will automatically use their literary and math skills in the way that they interact with the real world as well. The teachers are allowed to bring their students to meadows, creeks, mountains, forests, and shorelines.


This may sound like a new concept for American schools, and it is. But it has been around for years in other countries such as Germany, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, and South Korea. Teaching and lessons are done by personal experience with the environment; for example, teacher Nihal Öz of the Waldkindergarten in Germany tells a story of a little boy who wanted to know what would happen if he stood in the fire. He ran up to the teacher and said “Look, my feet did not burn!” From this, the teachers use this moment as a lesson by gathering all the kids around the fire, and teaching them about how fire works. Thorston Reinecke, another teacher, commented on the lesser amount of supervision that the children receive, but how it is beneficial to them: “maybe I don’t have that much control and I can’t always see them, but I know where they are. Not being there all the time allows them to assess risks better.”

When the world is your classroom, there is no end to the amount of learning that you can have just from personal experience and from picking up on the way that the world around you works. A stronger sense of the world can make a child more confident in itself and prepare them to use that confidence in the classroom later on.

Now, Waldkindergartens, or Forest schools, are popping up all over the United States. The first Forest School opened up in Portland, Oregon in 2007. There are several new Forest schools sprouting up in California as well, and there are enough schools involved that they are able to have formal meetings of all the supervisors of the Forest schools.

There is a growing amount of technology in our lives, but there will always be a vast amount of nature and earth to explore as well. Respecting both spheres of the world we live in are the first beginning steps to knowing more and learning more about our world, and creating stronger students in the classroom.


--Jessalyn Kieta

Read more →

Reflection Perception

In the Bitforms gallery in New York, there is a new kind of mirror that is drawing attention to this museum. Daniel Rozin, the inventor, has created an interactive installation that is made of pieces of black and white fur that move accordingly to your own body movements in front of the installation.

The piece is circular and contains exactly 928 pieces of faux black and beige fur. The fur pieces are each attached separately to motorized objects so that the furs can move forward and backward accordingly. The installation also has a motion sensor in facing forward, which allows the installation to project your furry silhouette across its surface as you move. As you move around in front of the PomPom Mirror, the beige fluffs are replaced with black ones in the shape of your body.


The PomPom Mirror is part of a collection of other moving installations including wooden pegs, trash, or folding fans that all have the ability to track movement. Rozin commented that he has long been trying to find a combination of soft materials and fabrics with technology, since many mechanical objects are hard, cold, and rigid. He was happy to make a breakthrough with the use of the pom poms, which can squeeze in between tight spaces (like other pom poms) and then retain their shape when they move forward again.


Rozin’s intellectual idea of a soft integration of technology is a great representation to the world we are slowly becoming accustomed to; there is much structure and rigidity in the way that we go about our lives with so much technology surrounding us. This new installation is suggestive of holding on to the “softer” emotional and delicate features of society in order to maintain a healthy balance.


--Jessalyn Kieta


Read more →

Wet-Folded Origami Breathes Life into Sculptures

Many of us may be familiar with the small, creatively folded paper creatures that form the essence of origami. Hoang Tien Quyet has taken origami to a whole new level, adding a water element to his figures to make the paper become more sculpted and life-like.

His technique of ‘wet’ origami has similarities to traditional origami, but is practiced in a much different, delicate manner. Traditional origami uses thin paper that is easy for folding, but wet origami must use a thicker paper that will not tear or shred once it is wet. The wetting of paper has a similar effect to creating a paper maché, but also gives more shape and fluidity to the origami figures. If the paper is too dry, it doesn’t shape as well, and if it is too wet, it will rip. It is a truly delicate process.

The result is beautiful, fluid looking creatures. The sculptures look almost malleable and soft; rather, they are hard and rigid from the paper maché effect. Quyet likes the ability to add personality into his work.

Quyet was infatuated with origami since childhood, joining an Origami group when he was young. He sharpened his skills in the wet fold origami from the techniques of Akira Yoshizawa, beginning to make his own shapes and styles in the 2008. He also co-authored a book in 2011 and 2013 on wet folded origami.


--Jessalyn Kieta

Read more →

Breaking Barriers of Autism

The solutions and breakthroughs of autism have long been a point of research, but this mother figured out the best way to help her child on her own. Jacob Barnett was diagnosed with autism at the age of two, and now that he is 12 years old, he is reaching new achievements that are not commonly seen with autistic children. But Jacob is special, and his mother, Kristine, also put him through a different education system.

Jacob was put through a cookie cutter education system right after he was diagnosed. Kristine was told he would never be able to read, tie his own shoes, or function normally in society. But, just from watching Jacob work on his own, Kristine realized he was already doing incredible things that were being overlooked by the education system he was in. She decided to go against what all the professionals were telling her and homeschool Jacob herself.

Through homeschooling, Jacob was able to discover and learn what he wanted to learn, and in the right amounts of time. He also had more time for hands-on activities like art, crafting, and sports.

Jacob’s mother’s plan worked; at the age of 11, Jacob is studying condensed matter physics at Indiana University-Purdue University. His IQ is higher than Einstein’s, being at 170. With the work and research that Jacob is currently doing, he could be on his way to a Nobel Prize. One of his professors said that the problems he is working on are some of the hardest in theoretical physics and astrophysics.

--Jessalyn Kieta

Read more →

"Graffiti Grannies"

Street art has been making a tough entrance into the art world, from being called garbage, dirty, unartistic, or strange; however, your grandmother is here to tell you that you’re wrong! The new breakthrough of street art is reaching a vast group of senior citizens in Lisbon, Portugal, who have began interactive clubs promoting and practicing their graffiti skills.


The club is called LATA65, meaning “can”, and the age of the participants in the group. Though the average age is 74 years old, some of their members are also 92 years old. The group promotes hands-on practice of public art for senior citizens by providing them with the paint, stencils or stencil-creating materials, gloves, and facemasks. Before they take out on their journey, the senior citizens learn about the history of street art that grew in Europe, and then learn how to use their tools. They also learn about tagging and stenciling.


LATA65 is breaking barriers of young and old by connecting them through hands-on art. Not only is this art a great therapeutic advantage for senior citizens, but it also gives them opportunities to remain active and connected with younger generations in the community. LATA65 also hopes to prove that the stereotypes that come with street art can be broken, allowing the artwork to be more appreciated.


As street art is becoming more accepted, it is being seen more often throughout cities and encouraged by stencilers who make more cut out, refined designs throughout the cement jungle of many cities. Street art has served has a great way for people within the city to express their communities, their emotions, and their way of life. Now, these great motives of expression are being opened up to an older community who possibly would not have had this opportunity otherwise.


--Jessalyn Kieta

Read more →

Un-Bee-lievable Art

Art and nature cannot get much closer than being the same exact thing! New artists have been using honeycombs made by bees for creating or enhancing their art sculptures. There are a few artists that have gone about this tactic in different ways. Let’s take a look at their different uses and styles for honeycombs in art.


Tomáš Libertíny

He is a Slovakian designer that has used bees as sculptors by giving them a rough shape to work with. He creates a shape, like a vase or a body, which is coated in wax and encased to house the bees. The bees are released into the structure to go to work on the wax, building their honeycomb structures.



This man created a vase/bottle shaped sculpture with a similar tactic to Tomáš, but his motive was to create an advertisement for whiskey that had a new honey flavor. He used over 80,000 bees to shape this sculpture.


Aganetha Dyck

Dyck took on a more unique spin to her sculptures; instead of the sculptures being entirely shaped by the honeycomb design in a shape, she let the honeybees go to work on sculptures she had already created. She has used porcelain figures, shoes, sports equipment—any sort of medium—to serve as a base for the bees to do work their wonder. The figurines or mediums are coated lightly wit honeywax to promote honeycomb building, but the bees have free reign on what shapes take place. Dyck’s work is great metaphor for the close connection between nature and society.


Ren Ri

Ri has collaborated with bees to make more surreal pieces, and what’s more impressive, world maps. Ri manipulates the way that he bees form the honeycombs, and where, by placing the queen bee in the middle of the box, and rotating the box weekly; that way, the bees would work around her at all times.


-- Jessalyn Kieta

Read more →

Three-Dimensional Sound Waves

Reify is a new company that has harnessed the art of making the intangible, tangible. With their new technology, they have created sculptures that are pulsing animations of our favorite songs. They are able to do this through using special software to capture the nature of the sound waves in a song, and print these sound waves into a sculptural shape using a 3-D printer. The printer can make the sculpture out of copper, plastic, even coconut husk.



Reify has also created an interactive app to be used in tandem with their unique sculptures; when you open the Reify app and point your smartphone screen at the sculpture, it is able to read the sound wave sculpture and play the song back to you.

Allison Wood, the CEO of Reify, was able to develop this technology through the New Museum-led incubator called NEW INC. They now have gained enough attention to have their own studio, but have plans of continuing collaboration with NEW INC.

Reify’s musical sculptures are planning to become more advanced in the future by 3-D printing full albums, poems, and other audio sources that could produce interesting and unique coffee table art.



--Jessalyn Kieta

Read more →

How to Study for Math

Math has a language of its own, with its numbers, complex variables and symbols, charts, graphs, and all sorts of increasing and decreasing curves. Having some handy step-by-step tips can lead you to more success with learning math! Use these study and test taking tips to lead to greater mathematic success!

  1. Read math problems completely before answering the question. If you read a question too quickly, you may miss important information or hints that can help you understand the question better.
  2. Draw diagrams when necessary. Most students believe they have great visual skills, but keeping your math straight can be tough! Having a diagram visually in front of you can take out some confusion and point out answers more clearly.
  3. Make sure you are working in the same measurements. This can be especially true of problems involving distance, chemistry, or baking. Your answer may be correct, but just not in the right measurement, and that’s a sad way to lose points!
  4. Do not be thrown off by questions that are a multi-step process. There may be additional work that must be done before arriving at your complete answer.
  5. Know the functions and abilities of your calculator. Most math courses nowadays are pretty good at teaching students how to complete work by hand, and with a calculator. This can help you find answers quicker, or help you fix your calculator if you are not seeing the results you were expecting.
  6. Understand the concepts and processes of math, rather than memorizing symbols and formulas. The complaints of not understanding math start with the student; if the student wants to truly be successful, they should take it into their hands to understand why the process makes sense.
  7. Begin each class by reviewing notes. This will jog your memory and help you jump into your classwork immediately, giving you a better math exercise.
  8. Finally, do you math homework immediately after math class or your new lesson. This is when the math material is the most fresh and understandable to your mind, and the repetitive practice of what you have just learned will drill the concepts into your memory.


--Jessalyn Kieta

Read more →

Preparing your Preschooler

As parents, we are given so many tools and resources to get your child on the right educational track from preschool and onward. This can include books, educational movies, singing songs, playing with puzzles, and the list goes on. But one huge part of education that can sometimes be looked over is developing the skills for your child to learn how to work and interact with the world. There are some key ways that, as parents, we can help our kids learn to become independent thinkers and problem solvers by giving them small doses of independence from the start!

Here are some top 5 ways that you can begin implementing great life skills for your preschooler: 

  1. Assign Responsibility: Give your kids a few chores or invite them to help you out around the house. This can be a small task like setting the table for dinner, feeding pets, or putting away toys and laundry. This shows your child that these things don’t get done by themselves!
  2. Do not help your child by doing things that he/she can complete herself: As much as you are teaching your child to learn how to complete tasks and work independently, allow them to try out their new responsibilities! This can be hard to remember when your child is learning so fast, but eventually they will catch up and follow your lead.
  3. Do not redo the work that your child has done: It may be driving you crazy that the shirt your child folded is really just a twisted ball, but do not fix that shirt! Your child will never come to notice the results of his/her work if they are not seeing the results of what they did.
  4. Know when to stop: Your children will come to enjoy learning; children naturally love to learn. If your child loses interest in the book you are reading, do not continue to read through the book or force your child to finish something. This can discourage them from having a positive learning experience.
  5. Talk to your child as an equal: Ask your child about their day, what they enjoyed, and any new things they have learned. Be enthusiastic and genuine about your interest. Speaking to your child as an equal shows your child that you respect them and care for them, and can also enhance their speaking skills from early on.


-- Jessalyn Kieta

Read more →

Temporary Bridge, Temporary Art

This artist certainly knew how to build a bridge and get over it! Artist Steve Messam, an environmental artist, built a bridge made out of 22,000 pieces of paper. It doesn’t contain a single screw, bolt, or piece of glue, but it can completely withstand the weight of people walking across it.

The bridge is located in the north of England over a creek. The bright red paper stands out in the surrounding lush green environment, but Messam likes to think of the bridge as something that is still natural in the environment because paper is only made of wood pulp and water after all. The art bridge is meant to be temporary, so once it starts to fall, the paper will be taken away and properly recycled.


The bridge stands due to compression from the paper. Messam placed down stacks of 1,000 pieces of paper at a time as the compression built up, finally hammering the last piece into place. Though nature has taken its tolls on the bridge, it hasn’t fallen, even when the paper gets wet; rather, the bridge becomes stronger when the paper fibers are wet because the fibers want to swell, and it has no room to do so. In the weeks that it has been open, it has only sunk 30 millimeters.

Messam has done a great job of creating art pieces that are installations into the environment; they do not disturb the flow of nature around them, but rather work in tandem with it. Messam commented about his thoughts of outdoor environmental art: “the work is as much about its surroundings as the object itself. Its more of a total experience than seeing a sculpture in a gallery.”


--Jessalyn Kieta

Read more →