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Posts Tagged ‘blown glass’

   This is a report on our progress toward completing the student podcast episodes for this year. Right now, three episodes are underway and a fourth is pending. Students in my Media Design classes at Mountainland Applied Technology College have researched, planned, videotaped, and are now editing the following topics: The Art and Science of Blown Glass; Illuminating History: The Story of Stained Glass; and The History and Process of Synthetic Diamonds. Our fourth project will be about the history and properties of clay pottery.

   On Feb. 11, a team of students traveled to Thanksgiving Point near Alpine, Utah to tour Holdman Studios, a glass blowing and stained glass studio ran by Tom and Trevor Holdman. Our subject matter expert on blown glass, Gay Wyn Quance, had previously come to our school where we interviewed her on the history and processes of glass blowing where we could guarantee good lighting and audio. At Holdman Studios, we set up our cameras, lights, and mics and videotaped Gay Wyn giving two separate demonstrations of the process of blowing a glass plate. We used two cameras and a wireless lapel mike system to ensure good video and audio. We also took several hundred excellent photos of the process (see our previous post). Afterward, we videotaped Trevor and his assistant, Keith, creating a large green with white striped glass platter. We have since captured all the video and audio to Final Cut Studio on our Mac Pro computers, written transcripts word for word, and assembled them all with narration into a draft script of the episode. Today we recorded the narration, and tomorrow we will capture the narration and begin the editing process.

Green art glass for stained glass windows

Green art glass for stained glass windows

   For the stained glass project, another group of students travelled to Thanksgiving Point again on Feb. 26 to videotape Josh Lewis demonstrating the processes of making stained glass windows, from a demonstration of the basic cutting and assembly process through creating the original cartoons, painting on the glass, using sandblasting to engrave the glass, and finally how glass is slumped or molded. Again we had two video cameras and a digital still camera and two mics and we recorded some excellent footage and audio. We have since captured all of this to our system, written the transcripts, and are now writing the final rough draft of the script.

Partially assembled stained glass window

Partially assembled stained glass window

   We contacted Novatek, a company in south Provo that makes Polycrystalline Diamond (PCD) for oil well drill bits. The president of the company is David Hall, son of H. Tracy Hall, who invented the processes of synthetic diamond at General Electric in 1954. After leaving GE for a professorship at Brigham Young University, he continued to invent new processes including the tetrahedral and cubic presses still used today. He formed Megadiamond, a company that has since been sold to Smith International, and then formed Novatek. Our Subject Matter Expert is Francis Leaney. On Friday, March 13 a group of students from my morning class traveled to Novatek where we interviewed Mr. Leaney on the history of synthetic diamonds, the processes of making them, and their uses now and in the future. We took a detailed tour of the plant using three cameras, as well as the museum that houses many of Dr. Hall’s original inventions including samples of the very first synthetic diamonds. That footage has now been captured and the transcripts are being written, which is a slow process.

Tetrahedral press for synthetic diamond making

Tetrahedral press for synthetic diamond making

   Meanwhile, I have been busy traveling to teacher conferences in Utah to present this project and enlist the aid of colleagues to form teams of their own to document the chemistry in their own towns. The Utah State Office of Education has given its support of this project by offering continuing education credits for teachers who go through the training. My initial grant application to the National Science Foundation was turned down, unfortunately, but the reviews were detailed and quite encouraging, They want me to develop more partnerships to help ensure the success of this project and to come up with a more concrete evaluation plan at the end. However, the idea itself they feel is worthy and they encourage me to reapply. My next move will be to start building these partnerships and to send out a mailer to all the science and technology teachers in Utah to describe this project and ask for teams to volunteer. The conference presentations went well and their are some interested teachers already, but now is the time to reach out to the rest of the state. Here is a .pdf version of the presentation I gave to Utah teachers at the Utah Science Teachers Association and the Utah Coalition of Educational Technology conferences this last month:

elements_unearthed_presentation (.pdf format)

Display of the history of synthetic diamonds at Novatek

Display of the history of synthetic diamonds at Novatek

   We should have the draft versions of the episodes done (or a director’s cut) by the end of April. By mid May we’ll have the final versions edited, compressed, and uploaded to this blog. I’m also working on new versions of the episoded created last year; these have not yet been posted because they still need some editing and improving to shorten and tighten the stories. Altogether, by the end of May, we’ll have the four episodes from this year, three from last year, and the introductory episode I created this last fall for the NSF grant. We look forward to having this first Phase of the project completed by the end of May, ready to move into Phase II with my trip to the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia this summer.

   Now that the various issues regarding this project at MATC have been resolved, I will be able to start posting on a more regular (weekly) basis and keep you up to date on each project. Next week: How you can get involved.

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Where We Are Right Now:

   The last two months have been extraordinarily busy in both good and not-so-good ways. I haven’t posted many entries lately, partly because we are now deep into this current round of podcast episode development (more on this in later posts) and partly because of things going on at my school (MATC). 

California cyprus stained glass window

California cyprus stained glass window

   My two Multimedia I classes are both deeply involved in planning and research for their topics and we have begun to videotape them already. One topic chosen by a team this year was stained glass, its history, and how it is made. I contacted a renowned local studio (Holdman Studio at Thanksgiving Point, owned by Tom and Trevor Holdman) to see about the possibility of videotaping how they do stained glass. I was able to visit the studio that afternoon and found that they also have a blown glass facility, and watched as Trevor Holdman and an assistant (Brent) created an amazing glass platter using techniques that haven’t changed much in 1000 years. The science and physics of the glass as a material are fascinating. We also found a marvelous subject expert on blown glass in Gay Wyn Quance, who teaches classes at the studio and agreed to come to MATC for an interview, which we conducted on Jan. 28. This gave my students some practice setting up and using the equipment. Then yesterday, Feb. 11, we traveled to Thanksgiving Point and videotaped Gay Wyn, Trevor, and Brent in the studio creating blown glass plates and platters. The video footage and photos are excellent, and our task now is to capture the footage, write transcripts, create final scripts, and edit over five hours of tapes down to about 15 minutes for our final episode. We plan on having the episode ready by early March.  We still need to return and videotape the stained glass portion of the workshop.

Blocking the blown glass

Blocking the blown glass

   Other teams are looking at liquid nitrogen and oxygen, pottery making and ceramics, and synthetic diamond manufacturing. Over the next few days I will be setting up tours and contacting experts to go over the wiki site that these students have been creating, at:

elementsunearthed.pbwiki.com

   Another factor in not updating this blog as well as I had planned is that I have been writing a series of grant applications, including a big grant for Informal Science Education through the National Science Foundation. I managed to get the grant done in time on Dec. 18, then spent most of Christmas Break creating supplemental materials to send in, including a podcast episode with all of our previous entries summarized as description and rationale for the project in video format, with images and animations. It was difficult to create, at 23 minutes of animations and images with no video footage at all (except some news footage of the Mona sodium azide spill mentioned above). I am now working on a grant for Intel Corporation, and preparing for several presentations at Utah teacher conferences coming up in the next few weeks.

Blown glass heating in the glory hole

Blown glass heating in the glory hole

   On the unfortunate side, after discussions with my program managers at Mountainland Applied Technology College (MATC) I have decided to remove this project from my courses at MATC once the current round of podcast episodes is complete. I was hoping that the students there could continue their involvement in the project, gaining invaluable practical experience in video production. But because of lack of vision and fear of risk on the part of the managers at MATC, it is clear that after this May I will no longer want MATC to have any involvement in the project. It won’t make any real difference to this project as a whole, other than it would be good to have more students act as reviewers who know something about video editing. It may mean we will now involve students in media design from other schools instead. But because of the separation that is now needed for this project, I haven’t been able to spend as much time updating this blog. Now that our video projects are in full swing, I will return to this and keep you posted on our progress.

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