Before Kevin Reese added the final piece, the plank that was supposed to move around like the wheel in an inverted windmill, about 125 fourth graders gathered around.
Reese, an art teacher, clicked the plank in place, and as metal pieces on top of the structure began swinging round and round with the flow of the wind, students erupted with cheers and clapping. It worked.
Just an hour earlier, fourth grade students at Hunters Woods Elementary School filed out the school’s front doors like on a conveyor belt, bringing out wooden plank after wooden plank.
That cold early morning on March 3, the students filled a grassy niche near the front of the school with the multi-colored planks.
Then, Reese enlisted Mohamed Khalifa, Andrea Ayers, Anthony Skaff and many other students to put the planks together like puzzle pieces, using only a ratchet wrench and a cordless drill. They were making a 14-foot tall stabile.
“IT’S KIND OF like a mobile. It’s a kinetic sculpture, so there’ll be an element that moves in the wind,” said Lisa Foley, art teacher at Hunters Woods, trying to explain the moving sculpture.
Reese, an expert in designing, sculpting and building mobiles and stabiles, spent a week working with fourth graders to create the stabile.
Foley said that Reese’s “amazing” visit to the school as an artist in residence included workshops for the students to help with the project.
“That’s the cool thing, to have every child have a hand in it,” said Foley, excited to see if the design would work.
The structure, which looked like an extravagant weather vane, included a final wooden plank on top intended to move around in circles as the wind blew.
“This is definitely a good day to see if it works,” said Foley, as flags on nearby poles cracked in the wind.
STUDENTS, TEACHERS and other administrators watched anxiously as the structure grew, uncertain exactly how it would look.
“This is so cool,” said Cathy Uhrig, president of the school’s PTA, which funded the project.
Students surrounded Reese for the better part of the morning, hoping for a chance to help out. “It’s fun to watch it [being put together],” said Rena Liu, a fourth grader who held one of several final metal pieces that were drilled to planks on top of the structure, including two pieces in the shape of an “H” and a “W,” signifying the initials of the school.
Principal Olivia Toatley, who watched the stabile’s debut, could only be caught smiling. “This is the perfect marriage of science and art,” she said.
The stabile, which sits just to the right of the school’s entrance, will become a permanent addition to the school’s landscape.