Dr. Claire OIander of Appalachian State University demonstrates
the structure of cellulose
This program is a joint venture between the Penland School of Crafts and Mitchell County High School. The program was conceived by former Penland School director, Ken Botnick. Collaborators in the development of the program are Dr. William Sears, Assistant Superintendent of Mitchell County Schools, and area crafts people and educators. It is supported by a three year grant from the Windgate Charitable Foundation. The program began in the fall of 1997 and is administered by Holly Walker, coordinator of outreach programs for Penland School.
Approximately 8-12 students from a chemistry class at Mitchell County High School participate in a three hour session on five Saturday mornings on the campus of Penland School. The program operates during both fall and spring semesters so that a total of 16-24 students have an opportunity to participate during a normal school year. The students are accompanied by a classroom chemistry teacher from Mitchell County High School.
The Saturday morning sessions are conducted by a craftsperson who has expertise in a particular artistic medium, such as paper and bookmaking, ceramics, glass, textiles, photography, or metals. The craftspeople have also had experience in teaching, either at Penland or another school. They are enthusiastic about participating in the program and convey their enthusiasm to the students. The students learn about the nature, composition, properties, origins, and history of the materials they use to create useful, decorative, and/or artistic pieces.
The particular media explored during a given semester may be different from those of another semester. Also, different aspects of a particular medium may be investigated on more than one Saturday. For example, students may form ceramic objects on one Saturday and then glaze and fire them on another. They may also do glassblowing during one session and lamp working of glass during another.
Scheduling of each session is coordinated by Ms. Holly Walker. Her task is to bring together a studio craftsperson, students, and teacher on a Saturday morning when all are available.
The high school teacher is integral to the success of the program. The
teacher selects students for the program on the basis of essays written
by students who wish to participate. Students are required to keep a journal
of their Penland experiences and are also required to research and present
information on a topic relevant to one of the media they have learned about
during the Saturday morning sessions. The teacher evaluates the students'
work. If students have completed their assignments satisfactorily, they
receive honors credit in the science course in which they are enrolled.