Written by: Ralph DiBart, New Rochelle Downtown BID.
Introducing the community, especially our school district, to emerging technology is one of the missions of the New Rochelle BID’s initiative IDEA New Rochelle.
IDEA participated in the inaugural STEAM & Families Science Festival, sponsored by Bayer, at the Albert Leonard Middle School (ALMS). Earlier this year New Rochelle BID’s IDEA New Rochelle sponsored initiative linked up CodeScty and the New Rochelle High School Math Department and PTA to teach computational thinking and coding skills to a group of high school students using popular rap music as a learning tool.
Based on their work we thought it would be great to help some of the many talented young artists in the New Rochelle School District also to expand how they think about art by designing on this same equipment and adding a visual third dimension to their work. We worked with Marc D. Schneider, District Supervisor, Music & Art and Director of PAVE to organize a series of workshops. Amanda Tarantino, a popular district art teacher volunteered her time to be the faculty representative at all workshops.
During June, Christopher Logan and Tony Patrick organized three 3–5 hour workshops. One to introduce a group of middle school students to how traditional artists are expanding their concept of art with this new technology such as Virtual reality (VR) and to let each of them experience it by designing their own artworks. Two workshops were then held with a group of high school students, one for an introductory session and the second to allow them to become more engaged with creating their own artworks. During all sessions Christopher and Tony shared their work and art experiences with the students and discussed new career avenues being created through emerging technologies.
We were astounded by the results. Students quickly adapted and became proficient in operating in VR. Their enthusiasm was contagious so the energy in the room increased as each student worked on their piece. What truly transformed them was their concept of art and how it could be presented. VR gave them an opportunity to not only produce their sketch, but to do it in three dimensions and to literally walk through and around their creation. The students also encouraged Mr. Schneider and Ms. Tarantino to try the equipment. They were equally amazed and afterwards able to engage their students in thinking of new art concepts and how to visualize things and expand their imaginations. Our mission as accomplished.
Christopher Logan commented: “What I found interesting were their approaches. Although each student used the same software, Google Tiltbrush, accessed the same hardware, HTC Vive headset and controllers via the ever so sturdy Alienware computer, each student did something different. All of them were working from initially 2-dimensional art concepts, but every participant approached the challenge of creating 3-dimensional form in uniquely different ways.”
Ms. Tarantino documented much of what the students did and her summary and some images and video from the workshops are in an accompanying post: “How a Series of Saturday Workshops Engaged Students and Expanded their Way of Visualizing the World”.