Matter of the Music and Physics of Light

February 8, 2024
Jake Bamford

PROJECT TITLE: Matter of the Music and Physics of Light

School Name: Winthrop Primary School

Teacher’s Name: Monique Dixon

Year Group: Year 5

Number of students: 30

Creative’s Name: Jake Bamford

Creative Practice(s): Game Developer, Film, Writing, Illustration, Environmental Educator

Main Curriculum Focus – Science

Cross-curricular Links: Film, Media, Digital Literacy, Literacy, Music, Creative Writing

About our projects:  Matter of the Music (T2), Physics of Light (T3)

Science and the three states of matter—solid, liquid, gas—formed the basis for our 30 Year 5 students’ creative learning adventures during our Creative Schools project. Who knew that creating parody music videos could be an ideal way of explaining the behaviours and properties of each state of matter?    

About our school:

Winthrop Primary School is a high achieving school with engaged students and staff. The classes are diverse across nationalities and learning abilities. The students are sociable, happy and willing to work with friends old and new, with only a few who struggle to work outside their closest friend groups.

What happened:

Under the guidance of teacher Monique Dixon and game developer and specialist in film, writing, illustration and environmental education Jake Bamford, Term 2’s ‘Matter of the Music’ challenged students to create a parody music video that explains and educates the three states of matter (solid/liquid/gas) and discusses their behaviours and unique properties. We began with activities that included cross-curricular approaches, learning the content alongside practising media skills. Standout examples were cartoon strips on behaviours of matter, and the writing to the beat activities. Students were given an object (like a plant pot or a balloon) that represented one of the states of matter and asked to imagine the object’s character. They created a short comic strip that showed how this character might behave in the world, referencing the behaviour synonymous with their specific state of matter.

With the general content covered, Jake decided to adopt an element of role-play, making students feel like they were a real production company, developing a real film project for a client. Students chose a group of 4+ to work with, and each group was given a Film Production Document (with plenty of official terminology), which they could use to structure and choose their roles in the production of the film.

The final step was to choose a song, rewrite the lyrics to something that discussed/explored the three states of matter, sing it and record it, film some footage, then edit everything together into a 1–3-minute music video!

Term 3’s ‘Physics of Light’ aimed to give students more freedom to play each week, rather than conducting pre-determined experiments that were commonly suggested by the curriculum. A lot of the resources around this topic are rooted in these science experiments, which while they look interesting, aren’t creatively challenging for the students. So, we tasked ourselves with creating activities that allowed students to be creative in this curriculum area, rather than follow strict, tried and true methods. We focused on encouraging students to explore and engage with content at their own pace, and in a way they could choose. We could provide a platform for them to create and collaborate. One major example was a lesson where we were exploring the nature of refraction. Rather than run some basic experiments to explore how the light travels through different materials, Jake started the class with ‘I don’t know what refraction is. Please make something that teaches me what it is!’ Not only did the students enjoy becoming the teachers, but each group found different ways to explain and demonstrate refraction, from youtuber style videos to instructional corporate videos, and other mediums.

How did we use the Five Creative Habits of Learning?

We aimed to incorporate the Five Habits as often as possible, asking students to think about which Habits they were using and when. The students were eager to claim they were using ‘imaginative’ and ‘collaborative’ almost every session, so in our later classes we ensured our activities gave the students opportunities to explore the other habits.

What we discovered:

The main indicator for positive impact on the students were how excited they were when a Creative Schools session was coming up. We focused on giving students opportunities to create and explore on their own. We used the curriculum as a reference for when developing activities for the students, but we never let it become the tick-box at the end.

Our project culminated with a Creative Schools Showcase, a day-long event held on school grounds, where students, parents, teachers and wider community, not necessarily already associated with the program, were invited to experience the work we had gotten up to during the program. The event was gamified, with a Tetris-like mini-game that had attendees adding blocks to a collection every time they completed one of the activities set up around the event.  Each activity was themed to one of the Five Creative Habits of Learning.

Impact on the Teacher/Creative team:

Monique already had a well-established rapport with the students, including multiple methods to get their attention, understanding their quirks and tendencies, and the students who required extra support. This made it a smooth transition for me to step into the class, as I could focus my efforts on building the creative learning environment and not have to worry about classroom management at all.
- Creative Practitioner
The program was highly valuable to my budding career as a teacher and opened new potential doors for my creative career. I’m hoping to incorporate the Five Habits of Learning into my other education work, especially now that this first year of Creative Schools has given me a chance to explore and practice this framework with the kids.
- Teacher

Main Curriculum Focus: Science

Cross-curricular Links:

• Film

• Media

• Digital Literacy

• Literacy

• Music

• Creative Writing