Negaunee High School students learn new skills from Northern

Hannah Fermanich

NMU’s interactive learning technology is bringing new learning opportunities to art students at Negaunee High School.

The NMU art department’s professor Dale Wedig will be giving a presentation about his innovative recycling process from 9:30 to 10:20 am on Friday, Dec. 2 to high school students in Barbara Savolainen’s art class.

By using the new interactive learning technology, Wedig is able to teach the students in Negaunee from his own studio via video and audio communication in real time.

“We are really excited for the opportunity to be taught by a renowned sculptor,” said Barbara Savolainen, a Negaunee High School art teacher.

The presentation will go over the process that Wedig uses to melt down scrap metal and pour it into old ceiling tiles to be used again for different projects, specifically jewelry making.

The real time communication through the interactive learning technology will allow the students to give input into the designs of the jewelry and allow them to ask questions, said Michael Letts, assistant professor of art education.

“We want to expose the students there to a process they would not usually see in high school art,” Letts said. “The goal is to make them aware of the wide variety of possibilities for using creativity and applied learning. And, they become aware of the kinds of exciting projects and careers they can pursue in a university art program.”

According to Savolainen, the presentation would have been difficult to have in a high school classroom environment.

A lot of the tools necessary aren’t available in an average art room. By using the technology, Wedig can use his own equipment in an environment that he is familiar with and still reach classrooms that are miles away.

“It also saves transportation costs and time. It allows us to easily reach out to schools without the major effort of field trips, and to bring our facilities into the picture in an interactive presentation format,” Letts said.

Although the technology is greatly helping in allowing this presentation to happen, there are certain obstacles in using it.

The layout of the area that Wedig will use to demonstrate will have to be limited in order for everything to be easily shown on the video communication.

“We will just need to set it up like a cooking show on TV, with limited moving around,” Letts said.

A follow-up lesson will be led by Letts to incorporate part of the process learned in the presentation into a similar project using the facilities available at the high school.

“We are very excited to be offering this as a contribution to our local schools. Part of our mission at the NMU School of Education is to promote and support education in our community,” Letts said.

There are no immediate plans for future classes similar to this, but both Savolainen and Letts are looking forward to the opportunity of more.

The possibility of creating more classes will be based on the demand and interest for them in different areas of art.