Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Did Galileo Do Tie-Dye?

I spent the whole day today doing one of the things I enjoy most: teaching tie-dye to lots of kids.

I was at my daughter's summer camp, Galileo Summer Quest, which is a new program here for middle school kids. It's not "school", but it's a seriously educational program. Kids spend time doing things like learning how to make digital movies (from storyboards to shooting to editing on the computer) and learning leadership and collaboration skills. They also spend a period of each day doing more recreational activities like playing extreme hopscotch and foursquare--that's where the tie-dye comes in (besides, it is camp!).

Galileo Summer Quest is a great camp for nerd kids--or kids whose parents want them to be nerd kids! Or both, in my daughter's case--(wipes away tear)--I'm SO proud! I'm a nerd too, of course. But the question arises: is there anything educational and intellectual about tie-dye?

Absolutely! In my pre-dye lectures to the middle schoolers, I manage to sneak in just a little brain work. There's a little botany/biology: the Procion dyes bond to the cellulose in the cotton shirts, and where can you find cellulose? Cell walls in plants. There is a little chemistry in the reaction of the dyes with the soda ash (a basic solution) and the cellulose. And there is math: we spend time talking about how folds relate to the lines of symmetry, and how the stripes of colors relate to the folding, in the final design. We did X, V, stripe, and diamond designs. The kids (and counselors) really have to apply their spatial skills to wrap their heads around how the diamond and the X patterns come from almost the same folds.

Who knew tie-dye was so intellectual? Galileo would be proud.

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