Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Dream Rocket Project

My 2nd and 3rd grade students spent the majority of November working on the Dream Rocket project.
In 2008, the IFC launched its current project, the Dream Rocket. The Dream Rocket project is a large scale collaborative fiber wrap. Up to 8,000 fiber panels will be created by individuals from various regions of the world, and then combined to wrap the Saturn V Moon Rocket in Huntsville, Alabama. The designated theme of the panels, “Dare to Dream”, challenges individuals to expand beyond the present state of the world and imagine the future. Perhaps most importantly, individuals are challenged to imagine their contribution to that future. These individual dreams and aspirations will combine to create a monumental work of fiber art of unprecedented size, providing a tangible demonstration of the beauty of individuals collaborating to meet universal challenges.

*I chose 2nd and 3rd grade students because of our schedule. This project is NOT just for elementary students, and not just for schools. A lot of community groups representing all ages have participated.
The basic idea of the Dream Rocket project is that students work collaboratively to create 2x2 foot panels based on one of many "dream themes". The suggested themes include Space, Imagination, Art, Music, Science, Conservation, My Favorite Story, etc.
I decided that there would be 3 projects for each 2nd and 3rd grade class which made a total of 15 for 3rd grade and 21 for 2nd. I showed some example panels off the Dream Rocket website and explained that we would be participating before the students started brainstorming ideas. I pulled up a blank document in Microsoft Word and typed their ideas. I asked each class to pick one for "My Favorite Story" since there is a chance the local library could pick one to display on their Bookmobile. Brainstorming ideas before splitting into groups let me make suggestions and offer guidance, and combine similar ideas. The students voted until there were three themes standing, then I assigned a theme to a location in the room and the students split themselves into equal groups.
I'm not sure if this was the best idea overall. I had a lot of bad combinations of students put themselves in the same group. Though the 3rd graders handled the group project better than most 2nd graders, it made for a pretty frustrating month. I spent half of my time trying to mediate disputes and I was really thankful for the help of Paras when they were assigned to a class in the Art room.
At the end of the first class, the groups made plans within their chosen theme and some started to sketch on their panels. 3rd grade students used 2x2 ft pieces of canvas given to us by the Dream Rocket coordinators and the 2nd grade students worked on 2x2 ft pieces of donated sheets that I primed with discounted off-white house paint. The 2nd and 3rd classes were spent painting. In the 2nd class, I thought it would work well for some students to work on the background while others worked on the subjects to spread out the work. In the 3rd class period, I got smarter and asked everyone to work on their background until it was totally done, then move on to the rest. In the 4th class period, the students finished anything that needed to be finished with oil pastels and filled out the "entry form"- marked their theme, titled their artwork, explained their idea, and recorded the materials and group members.
Here are some of the more successful panels, the ones where the students found a way to work together and make compromise.  Some of the other panels... well, let's just say you can tell there were a few too many "bosses" in those groups. Looking back now that I've had some recovery time, I'm glad we participated, excited that the students' artwork will help cover a real rocket, and not in a big hurry to work on a primary grade group project for a while! :)


  1. Team work and collaboration is such an important skill for our kids to learn, but also one of the the most difficult! Good on you for tackling it! Elizabeth :)

  2. Hi Katie

    I admire your willingness to take a risk (and your stamina!).