Mastermind

By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, August 23, 2006

Grade Level

  • Elementary School

Category

  • Product Design

Subject Area

  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

One fifty-minute class period, plus one homework assignment

Introduction

In this activity students will learn the differences and similarities between "masterpieces" and mass-produced objects. Students will analyze the value of masterpieces and mass-produced items. They will also persuade panel members to accept items that they recommend into their museum collection.

National Standards

Objectives

Students will do the following:
  • explain the differences and commonalities between masterpieces and mass-produced items
  • analyze the value in both masterpieces and mass-produced items
  • analyze how the inventive and creative nature of humans is expressed in objects they produce

Materials

  • photographs of a variety of masterpieces, such as buildings, paintings, jewelry, etc.
  • photographs of a variety of interesting mass-produced objects, such as glasses, airplanes, clothing, etc.

Vocabulary

Masterpiece 1. An outstanding work of art or craft.
2. Something superlative of its kind.
Mass-produced To manufacture in large quantities, often by or as if by assembly-line techniques. (The American Heritage Dictionary)

Procedures

Building Background What do we Value?

The purpose of this activity is to examine the value of both masterpieces and mass-produced items. 1. Explain the definitions of both a masterpiece a mass-produced object, as you show an example of each. Masterpiece 1. An outstanding work of art or craft. 2. Something superlative of its kind. Mass-produced To manufacture in large quantities, often by or as if by assembly-line techniques. (The American Heritage Dictionary) 2. Show the class photographs and/or actual masterpiece and mass-produced items. Ask the class to determine if each item is a masterpiece or a mass-produced item. 3. Involve the class in a discussion regarding the value of each item, and how the inventive and creative nature of humans is reflected in the objects.

Steps for Learning Masterpiece and Mass-produced Items

The purpose of this activity is to provide students with an opportunity to analyze masterpieces and mass-produced items. 1. Homework Assignment Ask students to imagine that a new M&M (Masterpiece and Mass-Produced) Museum is opening its doors. They are looking for one more example of both a masterpiece and a mass-produced object to add to their collection. Tell students that it is their job to find an example of both a masterpiece and a mass-produced item that deserves to be added to the museum's collection. 2. Ask students to find one object to submit for each category. Students may find photographs of the objects online or in magazines, or they may draw a picture of the object. They may also bring in actual objects. 3. Tell students to write a paragraph for each item that explains why the item should be included in the museum's permanent collection. 4. After students have completed the homework assignment, select three students to serve as the panel from the museum. Have each student show the panel his or her items and state their case for including the item in the collection. Students may reference their written paragraph while making their plea to the panel.  Alternate panel members so that each class member has a chance to be on the panel and present his or her items to the panel. 5. Have the class vote by ballot to select which two items will be included in the exhibit.

Assessment

Reflection
Ask students to answer the following question:
What three things have you learned during this assignment?

Enrichment Extension Activities

Create a Brochure
Have students create a brochure for the "M&M" (Masterpiece and Mass-Produced) Museum that features the items that the students collected.

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