THE HOW AND WHY OF ART.

Today’s post is presented by my guest blogger and science buff Betty Gail Gallender who will demonstrate how art and science join forces to create unique projects.  Here’s Betty:

I have always loved the art of creating. But what I try to understand is the “how and why” of it. This is the “Science of Art.”
Today’s experiment starts off as an art project- but helps us see that science is behind everything we make.

Our kindergarteners created the “stain glass” butterflies pictured in this entry, which inspired me to do the same lesson with the 2nd graders using “dinosaurs of the deep” as the theme.              IMG_1639

My questions were how did they make their “stained glass” and why did it turn out like it did?

The “How” involves some pre-work on the part of an adult. First cut out the shapes you will use on black construction paper leaving a wide outline. Trim away the inside of the design. (I used an exacto knife.) Glue the outline onto a sheet of wax paper. Turn old crayons into shavings using a pencil sharpener, a sharp knife or pair of scissors to scrape them like a carrot.

Divide the shavings by color. Then, let the kids lightly sprinkle the shavings into the open spaces on the back of the wax paper design. (Don’t use too much–a little goes a long way!) Cover the picture with another piece of wax paper. Help them place the prepared picture between a towel or a folded piece of heavy paper.
Have an adult iron over the towel covered wax paper until the crayons melt and seal the design to the second piece of wax paper. Trim the design along its outer edges and hold it up to a window to reveal your “stained glass.” Take another copy of the cutout design and glue to the back to give the picture support and a finished look.

IMG_1640

The “Why”—your work of art looks like stain glass is due to the heat and pressure of the iron combined with the translucent qualities of the melted crayons and wax paper. The heat melts the crayons turning a solid into a translucent liquid while the pressure spreads the liquid out. The wax paper is always translucent.

Things to discuss with your kids:
Explain to them that while unmelted crayons are solids that you cannot see through, the wax paper and melted crayons become translucent. This means that you can see through them, but not clearly because they diffuse the light that is passing through them. Point out that the glass in the window is an example of something that is transparent- you can see clearly through it.
Ask them why the crayon shavings changed and discuss how heat and pressure from the iron caused the crayon shavings to melt and spread out.                                                                     IMG_1625


I love experiments like this because they are a perfect example of ways to engage your kids in fun projects that are both educational and entertaining. Science is not boring or hard- it’s all around us. It is something that becomes obvious when we look into the how and why of the things we make and do.
I hope you enjoyed my guest post. If you try this experiment, I’d love for you to leave a comment here or over at
sciencefunwithmom.wordpress.com.

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