Sixth Graders Build Special Musical Instruments Using STEAM Skills & Mindset

Holiday Sing at The Children’s School is just around the corner, and our sixth graders have an exciting project to unveil for the special day. The students collaborated with Museum of Design Atlanta (MoDA), STEAM Coordinator Kelly, Music Specialist Eliel, and Art Specialist Kelley to learn how to build, decorate, and play their very own musical instruments!

At the beginning of the school year, students visited MoDA to study one of their recent exhibits, Wire & Wood: Designing Iconic Guitars.

“Students learned about the process of making an electric guitar and their components. They also learned how musicians modify and extend existing instruments to better fit their needs,” said Alice Vogler, director of education and community engagement at MoDA.

Alice noted that the exhibit inspired students to consider their own aesthetic and design choices when creating and how those decisions reveal and communicate something about themselves and their ideas.

Each student brought their instruments to life with decorative designs that reflect their hobbies and interests, backgrounds, personalities, and more in Art Specialist Kelley’s classroom.

“I saw that the guitars at MoDA had accents of color around the perimeter, so that’s what I tried to do [with my instrument] using sparkly duck tape. Also, I made mine a more creative shape,” said sixth-grade student Imani.

Another student, Alex, “made a triangular, ukulele-sized instrument. It’s shiny and purple with silver rims.”

Kelley added that, “one of the challenges was working with wires that are required [for each instrument] and adding a design component [to that]. So, we asked ourselves, how can we make it beautiful and functional?”

STEAM Coordinator Kelly’s approach to STEAM education is as much a mindset as a focus on science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. In her class and with some help from MoDA educators, sixth-grade students spent weeks learning how to program micro:bit computers and integrate them into musical instruments that they designed and built. Once the instruments were programmed correctly, the students’ next challenge was to learn how to play them for a musical arrangement with Music Specialist Eliel.

“Our talented musicians are working hard for the upcoming performance, and they are tremendously proud and excited to show their families their art. During the concert, their families will get to watch the result of dedication… and that’s a beautiful thing,” said Eliel.

All of our Middle Grades students are dedicated to expanding their musical talents by learning to play new instruments, such as the drums.

The sixth grade plans to add a special touch to the Middle Grades performance on Holiday Sing that involves their hands-on creations, so stay tuned!

“I don’t want to give it all away, but know that all the diversity and philosophy of TCS will be recognized and celebrated through our musician’s performances. Expect the beauty of our people to reflect the music you’ll hear,” said Eliel.

The Children’s School is partnering with the Peachtree Branch Public Library to host a FREE STEAM Learning Event on Wed., Nov. 20, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. 

Kelly Lyn will lead a hands-on, STEAM activity geared toward kids ages 9 – 14 that challenges them to be creative and persistent as they use everyday supplies to design an electric circuit to solve an important problem. 

This event is FREE and open to the public, but space is limited. Click here to RSVP and download an invitation to share here.