Displaying the funds and the finished product are (back) Memorial High teacher Miguel Herrera, Jessica Vega, Kirsten Wilson, Jennifer Flores, Michael Contreras, Esteban Blanca and teacher Adam Malek; and (front) April Rosse and Amy Truong.
By BRITTA GAMINO
Pasadena ISD Communications
It was like Christmas in May a year ago when students in Memorial High's art department got the gift of their dreams, courtesy of the Pasadena ISD Education Foundation.
Down the halls streamed Education Foundation members into Adam Malek's art studio toting clanging clappers, towing balloons and, of course, an oversized check for $4,102. Malek's fantasy vision of "robotic art cars" was on its way to becoming reality.
Malek's dream was to some day enter the Houston Art Car Parade with miniature robotic vehicles. After applying for a mini-grant through the Education Foundation, Malek met with fellow faculty art teachers to see how he could improve math and science TAKS scores with art.
"We realized that we needed something the students had not seen before," Malek said. "We needed a different aspect of art that students would be intrigued by and excited to learn, while at the same time integrating math and science into the project."
In order for the students to fully understand the structure and the technology of robotics, Malek brought in industry leaders from the fields of technology, robotics and engineering to give students a sense of real-world application.
"The kids are so appreciative of the Education Foundation," said Malek. "They were thrilled that they were going to be able to actually start the project we had been talking about for so long."
But building basic remote-controlled cars wasn't enough for Malek. He wanted to push student creativity even further by challenging them with a surprise twist.
"Make these cars draw," Malek told his students.
Somewhat baffled, Malek's team of 55 students stared blankly at the cold, white linoleum floors which were now covered by a sea of robotic car pieces. In Lego fashion, the students began reassembling the remote-controlled cars piece by piece. It took over 40 hours, start to finish, for each project.
The students used special paint brushes, designed with paint inside, that would attach to the ends of the robotic cars and paint on any flat surface -- allowing the cars to draw.
Malek said he believes experience will build students' confidence in their work and encourage team-building.
Missael Galvan, a junior, incorporated mixed mediums of plaster, paper mache, paint and foam pieces to complete his dragon robotic art car.
"I wanted to create something that doesn't exist, something that could catch people's attention," said Galvan.
Fittingly named the "Mini Art Car Brigade," Malek and 30 of his students will make their grand entrance into the Houston Art Car Parade this Sunday, May 22.
The free event will kick off at Allen Parkway and Bagby, and end at Waugh Road.