Thanks to Hawaiian Electric’s $15,000 sponsorship of Inquiring Finds: The Science Behind the Art at Spalding House, about 45 schools from across O‘ahu, as well as schools on Kaua‘i and Moloka‘i, will be able to experience this innovative, interactive exhibition this spring semester.

The exhibition, developed by education curator Aaron Padilla and a team of teaching artists, delves into the scientific processes that go into making art—from revealing how ceramic glazes work to illustrating the concept of kineses through a Rube Goldberg machine. Related hands-on activities allow students to experience the art-science connection first hand. Pictured above are Wai‘anae Elementary students, under the guidance of teaching artist U‘ilani Davis, learning how to make cyanotypes—simple photographic images created from the power of the sun.

“Children are visual learners,” says teaching artist Andrea Charuk. “Art allows self-expression, and also helps with spatial reasoning and problem solving,” she said, noting that “learning happens everywhere if we observe and ask questions.”

About 200 fifth graders from Holomua Elementary School in Ewa Beach recently visited Spalding House. “The exhibition adds interest to our existing curriculum and my students are able to make the connection between art and other subjects like science,” says Holomua teacher Erin Imamura. “The other benefit of going on the school tour is the hands-on activities. The supplies for the make-and-take projects are already provided, and my students do better and learn more from these experiments.”

For some students, a trip to Spalding House is a trip of firsts—their first time to Makiki Heights, revealing a perspective of the city they haven’t previously experienced, and a first time to an art museum.

“I saw cool things that I’ve never seen before and had a great time!” said an excited Anahi Guerrero, 7, of Mauka Lani Elementary in Makakilo.

“The view from here is nice and this is the coolest place,” echoed fellow student Jeina Bright, 9. “I also learned that certain metals are used to make the pottery different colors and how pottery was made in the olden days.”

For Elijah Semeatu, 9, the highlight of the show was the room-size camera obscura. “I want to come back and bring my whole football team to see the dark box and upside down image,” he exclaimed.

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Inquiring Finds is on view through July 6 at Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House.
Teachers interested in booking a school tour may call Jenny Engle at 532-8771, or book online.

Reporting by Sharon Higa of Hawaiian Electric.