Thursday, November 29, 2012

NYCHEA History Fair 2012

We had an awesome turnout for our homeschool group's annual history fair. It is one of the best events we do every year, and my son looks forward to it. He is already thinking about who to present on next year!


Some kids opt to do a more traditional talk, but most do a series of clues, and give the audience a chance to guess what historical personage they are pretending to be. Some wear costumes (Mikro doesn't, because he thinks it makes it too easy to guess who you are if you dress up, and he enjoys trying to balance revealing biographical information against phrasing things cryptically enough to stump the audience). Some make posters, models or projects. All the kids did a terrific job and got some valuable public speaking experience. My hammy kiddo hasn't got a shy bone in his body and only reluctantly relinquished the microphone when he was done. He had a great time.


Can you guess who Mikro chose to present on? Here are his clues:

I was born in the Netherlands in 1898.
I was left handed.
I hated school .
Drawing was my favorite subject.
My parents wanted me to study architecture, but my teacher thought I would make a better graphic artist.
I made woodcuts and linoleum cuts. I liked them because using just black and white allows you to express ideas clearly.
I was inspired by listening to organ music, especially Bach.
After I graduated from art school, I moved to Italy.
I did many drawings and prints of italian landscapes.
Sometimes I did commercial artwork such as postage stamps and wrapping paper.
It took over 30 years for me to be able to make a living from my artwork, but in the meantime, my dad gave me an allowance.
I visited a castle in Spain called Alhambra and was inspired by the intricate geometric designs I saw there.
I started to read about crystallography, the study of crystals, because I was interested in the shapes and patterns involved.
In addition to prints, I also carved wooden spheres.
After studying crystals and math, I came up with my Theory of Regular Plane Division, which I used in creating my art.
I am known for playing with perspective and creating impossible structures and pieces featuring repeating patterns.
I was interested in the contrast between order and chaos.
I played with distorting images, such as by doing a self portrait of myself reflected in a glass ball and in a water drop.
I was fascinated by tessellation (regularly repeated pattern pieces that fit together perfectly without leaving spaces).
One of my famous works involves lizards which morph from a drawing on the page into live reptiles.
Another of my famous works is called “Hands Drawing Hands”.
Some of my tessellations involve animal and human figures.
Sometimes the pattern pieces change and evolve across the piece. I did several pieces on the theme of “Metamorphosis”.
My nickname was “Mauk.”
I died in 1972.

And as a last clue, here is an art project he did, in the style of his subject:


I'll give the answer tomorrow... and post a how to for the art project, and some links...

Thank you to our wonderful organizer and master of ceremonies!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

We were gifted with a couple of unseasonably warm and lovely days last week, and rather than stay indoors, we took full advantage. Academics happen just as well at home after dark. Some things can't be put off. Basking in the sun on the beach on a November day in New York is not a treat to pass up! Nor is a Hudson River sunset.

But first, we took a nature walk, looked for owls in a certain pine stand (none there), watched a kestrel fly over our heads, and wandered the hilltop meadow that used to be the County Dump and is now a bird watcher's delight. Mostly sparrows this time, but still a nice afternoon.

Want to come along?












And then it was time to head to the beach before sunset...









We found what I think is a catfish skull:


And an ancient plastic bucket covered in barnacles.


And then we watched the show... Wow.





Thursday, November 22, 2012

Subway Holiday Cheer

Yes, it is advertising for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. But it was bright and colorful and fun, and we enjoyed the subway ride for a change...





No parade for us, except on TV. I am not a crowd person...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Sign of the Times-- Math Illiteracy as Advertisement

My son finds it hilarious that Speck ads cause me to rant about math illiteracy. These ads drive me nuts. They utterly misuse Venn diagrams. For example, consider the following:


The set of New Yorkers who own cars does *not* intersect with the set of New Yorkers who do not own cars. The two circles should not be overlapping in the graphic.

While the set of New Yorkers who had a car until the value of their parking tickets exceeded the value of the car *does* intersect with the set of New Yorkers who do not own a car, it does *not* intersect with the set of New Yorkers who currently own a car.

This is hardly rocket science. It is elementary school math. What does this say about the state of our educational system, and what effect does such an ignorant and ill-considered misuse of mathematical principles being put on public display have upon our current crop of students, who must look at these things and feel hopelessly confused?

Reason number 8,749 to homeschool...

Day of the Dead at NMAI NYC

Mikro and I had a great time at the Day of the Dead Celebration at the National Museum of the American Indian in NYC. The dancers were awesome! And Mikro really enjoyed making himself a skull necklace.










Model Ship Building Workshop at South Street Seaport Museum

South Street Seaport Museum has terrific weekend family workshops. We attended one on building model ships, and each got to make one. Here is our little family flotilla:

Mikro's Cobra:

Chele's Sea Dragon

Kev's Surprise

Mikro also got to make a naval hat:


Unfortunately, the Seaport Museum was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Local folks, please show your support if at all possible by making a donation or registering for a program. Please help keep this wonderful institution alive.