Five of us, worked with a visiting artist Joanna Griffin and conducted a workshop for 15 children from the fifth grade in the Aditi school- Bangalore, for one of the projects we are working on , based on the moon and space missions. Our aim was just to find out how children of that age relate to the moon and how much they actually knew about space and that celestial body. We had projected a big image of the moon on the floor and put some white paper on it and told the kids to draw whatever they wanted to on their moon. Whatever associations they had, like songs, stories, facts and pictures they wanted to put onto it.
Before they started on their big moon, we had given them their small individual moon to put down any thoughts, just to get them started.
The end product was mind blowing and the children were a delight to work with. Their voices screaming and screeching, shouting out the most interesting things, ones we would have never even thought of and also their kiddy politics of which boy or girl to listen to and who was the smarter one and who owned more dogs! Their conversations never failed to make me laugh! The things they came up with were quite interesting. They had pictures of celebrities on the moon, all sabotaged, cut up or destroyed with blood oozing out from all directions. They had green and pink ‘celebrity eating aliens’ who were probably the cause of their disfigured bodies on the moon. They had a zebra crossing, a flat screen TV, a swimming pool and lots of other things!
Once they had transformed the moon into what they wanted, we had a small discussion about invasion/inhabiting the moon and how in a few years we humans are probably going to get there. We showed them some slides with pictures created by various people of the future moon with some plants and small buildings and rockets. We then asked them how much they knew about what already existed in the moon and they seemed to be pretty well informed! Craters, flags, Armstrong’s footprint gasses, no gravity were some of the things they told us. They also had many questions to throw back at us!
Once the discussion was done, we asked them if they liked the actual moon or their painted moon. Some said this and some said that. One little girl was a bit doubtful though. She said “humm…even though the actual moon is all grey and not colourful and all.. I guess that is the natural thing...so I think that looks better!” When we suggested a mix, most seemed to agree! So, we covered half of their moon with white paper so they could see the projection of the actual moon on half while their painted moon rested on the other half. One girl immediately said, “No! Not that half! Please cover the other half, because we want the flat screen TV and the swimming pool!”
It was good to see how children related to the moon though. One major drawback was definitely the fact that they didn’t seem to use the canvas as the moon. Though initially hesitant about ‘Spoiling’ the moon, they went crazy after 15 of them crowded around to paint all they wanted! They did know a lot though. If we had given them the right triggers in the presentation about the physical attributes of the moon and what all exists and doesn’t exist, maybe they would have considered the craters and used one of those as their swimming pools instead of drawing a big blue pool in a random area on the moon!
One comment I can’t fail to mention! When I asked one of the boys to write about his thoughts on the moon, he immediately said ‘THE MOON IS MEANT FOR BAD GUYS!” I was a bit puzzled initially. I asked him why he said that. He replied saying, “Haven’t you seen it in the movies? The good guy always punches or kicks the bad guy and he flies out from the earth and lands on the moon! So I’m sure it is full of bad guys!” :) I though that was a pretty amazing observation!