Art, reviews and thoughts from a young artist in Plymouth, UK.

Posts tagged ‘Home education’

100 Ways To (be) Home Ed

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About Me

I am Kitty and I am a young artist in Plymouth.  I am also home educated and I am writing this post about myself and about what it is like to be a home educated young person for the #100waystohomeed bloghop.  The last post was at Never The Same Two Days Running and the next post will be by @thepndmonster.

I have never been to school but most of my friends do go to school and we have lots in common.  We like a lot of the same things, like going into town, chatting to each other, and watching Netflix together.  We also study some of the same subjects, like English and Art.  We all have to work and study and do housework at home, the main difference in our lives is that in school my friends have to do specific subjects according to a set timetable, whereas I have a choice of what I want to study and my timetable is quite flexible.  So for example while they go to school every Monday to Friday (in term time) from early morning to late afternoon, some days I don’t do a lot of study and instead I play games or go to events and exhibitions or maybe just hang out with other home ed friends.  However, on busy days I might work from the morning until late evening, I often have work to do at weekends, and for me school holidays are usually even busier than term time!

Another thing I have in common with young people who go to school is that we all have goals in our lives, like going to college or university, having a career we enjoy, and growing up to be happy and satisfied adults.  My own goals are to study Graphics, Illustration and Game Arts at Plymouth College of Art, to sell my artwork and meet lots of other artists and illustrators, and to find work in concept and character design in the video games industry.  Just like young people in schools, I have to work hard so that I can achieve my goals, but instead of focussing on GCSE exams in lots of different subjects, as a home educated person I can focus my time on building the skills I enjoy and I know I will definitely need.

I don’t tend to study different subjects every day, but I do have things that I do most days.  On a typical day, for example, I start with working on my art skills.  Starting with drawing helps me warm up to the day and to relax.  Usually I will do a 30 minute character sketch in pencil from my imagination or following a prompt (I like using artprompts.org), or I work on a previous sketch, inking it or colouring it.  After that, I work hard on my English Language study, because I have an assessment coming up at the Art college.  This is quite hard because although I think I have okay English skills (I read and write a lot!) I am not used to working towards an exam or having to answer those sorts of questions.

I spend quite a bit of the rest of my day doing art things, for example I work on projects to learn new techniques like printing, linocutting and costume making.  I do a lot of sketching in my sketchbooks (I have several which I use for different purposes), and I follow online courses and books full of tutorials.  The online courses I am following at the moment include one on drawing backgrounds, one on pixel art, and another on figure drawing and human anatomy.  The art books I work from and study include Keys To Drawing, Making Comics, and Urban Watercolor Sketching.  I think I probably spend a few hours most days either doing art or reading about art, and I follow other artists and illustrators on Twitter and Instagram to see what they are doing and to participate in online projects like #inktober and #dailysketch.  Studying art includes studying history, culture, anatomy, technical skills with different materials and software, psychology, and all sorts of other subjects.

I also try and keep track of current events and read articles especially anything to do with art and games, and especially local things like what the college is doing, or exhibitions and events that are happening.  I like to take part in things that are happening in Plymouth and its important to me to support local artists and to be part of the community.  I write about some of the events and places which I go to on this blog but I go to so much more than I have time to write about!  In the past few weeks I’ve been to a contemporary music concert, a performance by a folk band, an Open Day at the arts college, an exhibition of ‘upcycled’ skateboards, an exhibition about the Titanic, the Eden Project, a vintage toys exhibition, an exhibition about plastic dumped at sea, and more.  Today is Sunday and later I am going to a research performance where the audience will influence the soundtrack.  Going to all these different events expands my view on the world and what is possible as an artist.

Most days I also read fiction, at the moment mostly I am reading comics and manga but I do enjoy novels as well, especially funny ones.  I listen to music (all sorts, from game soundtracks to Britpop to Japanese pop and metal) and I practice playing my guitar.  I chat to my friends and if I can’t see them in person we talk online using Skype and Whatsapp.  At the end of the day I try to always write a bit in my journal and sometimes I read or draw in bed, or watch a film.  My About Me illustration at the top of this post gives more details about the things I enjoy.

As well as all this, every week I go to kickboxing twice (I have earned my Junior Black Belt!), I have either a guitar or a drum lesson, and I go to a local coding/tech club for young people.  I also go every week to a home ed activity group and a home ed social group, I’m a member of the National Art & Design Saturday Club and I go to two Youth Clubs.  I’m quite busy most days!  I don’t see myself just as a student but I also think of myself as a working artist and blogger and I hope to help the organisations and adults I meet to take young artists and writers seriously and see how we are part of the community too.  Although I do work hard at art and writing this part of my life can be really difficult as I am quite shy in person and often I am the only (or one of a small number) of young people at an event.  I can struggle with what to say as I worry about saying something that will be embarrassing    whereas when I am blogging or tweeting I have time to think and edit before I say something.  I take a sketchbook everywhere I go and that helps because if I’m nervous I can draw and that comforts me.

I could write so much more about the things I do as a home educated young person.  For example I also am learning to make games using Scratch, I am learning about electronics and coding using my Shrimp and Raspberry Pi, and I am trying to start a band!  I participate in game jams and create and publish video games with my brother.  I go to comics and science fiction conventions and I like to do cosplay.  I play with my little sister and sometimes we draw together, and I am used to spending time with kids of all different ages in our home ed groups.  My life is so full, but I do make time to relax and see my friends.

I hope that reading this has helped give an insight on what it is like to be home educated.  In some ways of course it is different to going to school but that doesn’t mean that we don’t study or have social lives.  We all have goals and worries just like any other young people, and we all have interests and are passionate about them.  If any other home ed young people are reading, please add me on Twitter or Instagram, and if you are a young artist in Devon or Cornwall add me too and maybe we can meet up sometime!

THANK YOU FOR READING!  Please remember to check out the other blogs on this bloghop and learn more about how different families do home education.

On Shaky Ground at At-Bristol

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The schedule for the On Shaky Ground event at At-Bristol

Last week me and my brother attended the On Shaky Ground event at the At-Bristol Science Centre (Twitter).  It was an event for home-educated young people led by a woman called Kathy about earthquakes, how they are caused and how engineers and architects design earthquake-resistant buildings.

We began the day with Kathy explaining to us how earthquakes can happen, the consequences of earthquakes and how engineering can help.  First she explained how the Earth is made from a central core surrounded by a layer of liquid magma, and above that floats the top layer called the crust, which is made up of several tectonic plates.  When the plates move against each other or the pressure is released from below it creates a seismic wave, which we also call an earthquake.  Kathy explained that earthquakes can be measured using a seismograph and that there are three different kinds of seismic waves: P-waves, S-waves and surface waves.

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This demonstrated the movement of the earth’s crust on the magma layer.

Next Kathy talked about the consequences of earthquakes.  One of the most interesting facts she told us was that around a million earthquakes happen every year but most are not felt by humans.  However, some earthquakes are strong enough to cause landslides, liquification, tsunamis and land ruptures.  Kathy explained that everything has a resonating frequency and if an earthquake has the same frequency as a building the building can be damaged or even fall completely.  She told us that ‘brown sound’ is a frequency that resonates with a human’s bowels and can make them poo themselves!

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This demonstrated liquification caused by earthquakes where some things rise to the surface from below and other things sink into the ground.

Kathy said we can’t predict or prevent earthquakes but we can design earthquake-resistant buildings with clever engineering.  We split into teams to plan and build earthquake-resistant water towers.  We were given a budget of £100 (fake!) to spend on materials for our towers, such as paper straws and string, and we had one and a half hours to finish our buildings.  Our buildings also had to be a certain height and as water towers had to be able to hold some weight, and we had to plan them out before trying to build them.  Kathy gave us this advice:

  • Keep it simple (e.g symmetrical)
  • Avoid changes in stiffness (changes in material)
  • Avoid local weak points (changes in load transfer plants)
  • Keep mass central (if mass is on one side it can cause twisting or falling)
  • Reinforce joints
  • Strong columns and weak beams
  • Use horizontal load bearing shapes (triangles are strong shapes)
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A close up of the earthquake simulator.

My team was called ‘Igloo’ and was made of me, my brother J, and a friend we made that morning, L.  We talked about the tips Kathy gave us.  At first we thought about a pyramid shaped building but decided against it because it wouldn’t be able to support the weight at the top.  Instead we chose to design a building with a cylindrical external shape with a square core support inside.  We chose this because one of the tips on the cards we were given said that if something had less sides it would have stronger earthquake resistance.  Next we talked about what materials we would build from.  We decided to use large paper straws as scaffolding stuck upright onto the plastic base we were given with hot glue, and smaller straws taped at the top of the long ones to increase the building height, since the large straws on their own weren’t tall enough.  We arranged our straws in a circle and wrapped sheets of paper around the outside for the outer wall.  To make it all stay together we used a hot glue gun, and reinforced it with tape.

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A closer look at our water tower.

We did have a few problems during the challenge.  It was difficult to get the straws to stand up straight because the glue was slow to dry.  We didn’t budget for straws for crossbracing so our structure was weak.  Some of the straws bent, which created some weak points as well.  Lastly, we didn’t manage our time well, so we weren’t finished when our time ran out, but we were given an extra five minutes.

Then we stopped for lunch and had a quick look around some of the science centre.  When we came back each table had a slinky to use to demonstrate seismic waves.  We learnt that a Seisometer measures the pulse given off by an earthquake and picks up where it came from.  Volunteers popped balloons of different sizes to demonstrate the different magnitudes on the Richter Scale.  Each number on the Richter Scale indicates an earthquake which has 30 times the energy of the number before it on the scale.  A very small balloon didn’t make a noise when it was popped but when a very large balloon was popped it was deafening and I felt it under my feet.

In the next talk Kathy spoke about how ground tremors can have unnatural causes, for example they can be a consequence of fracking, underground railway development, or quarrying.  Quarrying is digging into the ground to collect materials (e.g. rocks) and fracking is injecting water at a high pressure into rocks to release gas for people to use as energy.  Fracking is extremely controversial because of concerns it could cause tremors and pollution.  In the UK, fracking has only started to be used recently and is being monitored.  The UK doesn’t get a lot of big earthquakes and the only earthquake-resistant buildings here are nuclear power plants.  This is because engineers have to consider the likelihood and the consequences of an earthquake on the buildings they are designing.

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Our water tower about to be tested on the earthquake simulator.

Finally we tested our water towers on the earthquake simulator which is a table that shakes and has different settings for magnitude using the G scale (engineers prefer to use the gravity scale to the Richter scale).  Our team managed to pass the first two levels but fell on the third (0.3G).  Another team managed to get past the conditions of a typical Japanese earthquake.  Their tower was built similarly to the Eiffel Tower with a wide base coming to a point and had lots of crossbracing.  Instead of resting their weight on the top they had it hanging down the centre.

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Me in the hamster wheel at At-Bristol.

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J using a machine which shows how energy is used in the human body.

I really enjoyed the On Shaky Ground event and we learned a lot.  Afterwards we had two hours to spare so we had a better look around At-Bristol.  I went on a giant hamster wheel that generated power to lift water in buckets.  We played games to test our reflexes, measured our heart rates and tested our startle reflex.  J had a long talk about the chemical structure of water and about antibiotic resistance with Lisa from the Live science team (team Twitter).  Our wristbands had barcodes on them that allowed us to save our results.  There was a lot more that we looked at and more we didn’t see because we had so little time left but we are planning to go back again soon.  At the end we went through the gift shop and J got a pot of Thinking Putty and I got a couple of Banksy postcards.  We also looked at the statues and saw a small amount of a fireworks display in Millennium Square.

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The children’s picture books in Bristol Central Library are kept in this boat structure.

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There was an image of a person in the wood of the boat.

Before we came back to Plymouth we paid a visit to Bristol Central Library which was huge and had a large kids and young adult’s section, and while we were there I read some of the manga Nisekoi.  We walked through College Green and visited Park Street where I bought some Posca markers, Promarkers and Essdee Softcut (for lino printing) from Cass Art.  Cass Art is a huge art shop with two floors and a big selection of pens and other equipment.  I have started trying lino printing recently and it is quite good timing because this half term we are doing printing at NA&DSC and at one of my home ed groups.

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Some of my uncle’s custom painted shoes.

We also visited some of my cousins for dinner and to catch up.  My uncle in Bristol is a graphic designer and we looked at some of each other’s recent work.  I showed him all my Inktober drawings and he showed me his custom painted shoes and a mural he has painted on my cousin’s bedroom wall.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go to Bristol Museum or any galleries because I got sick, but I did get to see a lot of graffiti from the car window and one of our friends has promised to take me to see more next time I’m in Bristol, which hopefully will be soon!

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