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One Grove Gallery lamp exhibit illuminates student learning and creativity

Published December 20, 2023

Teacher: “Okay, your mission is to create a lamp base and shade using a 1 by 2-foot sheet of plywood and tissue paper, applying what we’ve learned.”
Students: “Great, what other materials can we use?”
Teacher: “None.”
Students: “None? You want us to build a lamp using nothing but plywood and tissue paper?”
Teacher: “You’ve got it. Let’s get started.”

And so they did. Buffalo Grove High School students took this learning challenge from technology teacher Nicholas Schaefer and ran with it - creating wonderfully unique lamps that have been on display in the school’s One Grove Gallery.

In setting up this project, Schaefer deftly created a pathway for students to demonstrate a series of skills.  “The purpose,” he explained, “is to get students interested in CAD (Computer Aided Design) by showing them how it can be used in practical hands-on applications.”

More specifically, Schaefer said, the project taught students how to properly dimension drawings and use a multitude of CAD software tools. After finalizing their drawings, students cut out their pieces using a laser cutter and assembled them using hot glue. Schaefer acknowledged that this was a learning experience for him as well; next year, he says, the class will avoid the hot glue mess by using super glue instead.

After putting their lamps together, students learned to wire and solder a lamp circuit. 

“It’s a practical life skill we hope they use in their life outside of school,” Schaefer said. “There were some really beautiful designs this year that we hope to outdo next year.”

The lamps are beautiful indeed, earning a display spot in One Grove Gallery, a student-run gallery that showcases artwork by students as well as artists in the community. 

Kristin Oversmith, a BGHS art teacher whose numerous roles include serving as the gallery’s coordinator, explained the mission as “striving to promote student understanding of the running and organization of an art gallery. The gallery is student-based in terms of show ideas, curating artwork, media and publicity, and website information and maintenance. One Grove Gallery is an opportunity to tie real-world applications to the fine arts.”

For the lamp show, Oversmith said, students helped hang the pieces and made media posters after Schaefer reached out to her about showcasing his students’ work.

Next up for One Grove Gallery, starting in January, will be a display by Chicago artist and illustrator Cori Lin, whose work on AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) history has been showcased in the Los Angeles Times, WBEZ Chicago, PBS Education materials, and on the History Channel.