Students use Lemberger collection across curriculum
OTTUMWA – Students from across Wapello County, including those in the Cardinal Community School District, are currently using the photographic history found in Michael W. Lemberger’s collection of images from southeastern Iowa.
The collection of more than 1.5 million photos is inspiring more than 40 creative projects ranging from poetry and art to technology and architecture. Exploring the Image is a first-in-the-nation demonstration of how images can be used across the curriculum.
Students from Cardinal and Ottumwa school districts will display their work 4-6 p.m. April 24 at Bridge View Center as part of the event announcing the donation of the collection to the University of Iowa.
The U of I and the University of Northern Iowa have formed a groundbreaking collaboration to make the images available to the public online. UNI’s pilot project, Fortepan Iowa – fortepan.us – will share high-resolution images under Creative Commons licensing.
At Cardinal, eighth-graders Jordan Langford and Rebecca McSparen have combined forces to recreate Lemberger’s photo of an empty window in an art piece and poem.
“I saw Rebecca drawing this picture ... I was thinking about doing a project, but hadn’t chosen,” Langford said. “I knew she was good, but I hadn’t seen her draw something that wasn’t a person.”
McSparen’s drawing in charcoal and pencil will be accompanied by a poem that forced Langford in a new direction in her writing. This darker poem has “an overall chilling theme, which is what I wanted,” Langford said. Their collaboration also encouraged them to share feedback. The art became darker while they explored themes to enhance the poem.
At Ottumwa High School, Brooke Gevock’s class of ninth-graders is using the collection for short-story prompts and research projects, such as revisiting the site of an old photo to see what has changed.
At Evans Junior High, Joe VanDenBerg and his Project Lead the Way students are creating architectural drawings and 3D models based on the photos.
Cardinal sixth-grader Mason Shepherd is employing a different technology to explore the architectural angle. Using a Kindle Fire and the Minecraft video gaming system, he recreated the Iowa State Capitol building using one of Lemberger’s photos and floor plans. A viewer can walk through the entire structure, climb to the dome, check out the House and Senate chambers and look at offices complete with furniture.
“It’s around a million blocks,” Shepherd said. “Sixty [blocks] one way from the door and 60 the other ... That’s 120, I think. I’m not good at math.”
Shepherd’s mother, Cardinal curriculum director Cindy Green, said that now when she calls for him to take a break from technology, Shepherd’s answer is, “But I have to work on my Lemberger project.”
“I didn’t know I could do anything so big,” Shepherd said. Architecture is a special interest of his, and he plans to continue by building a city around the capital building.
At the announcement event, the public will have the opportunity to view all of the projects and talk with the student creators. In addition, there will be a video on Lemberger and his contribution to the preservation of the area’s history. Representatives of the University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa will attend, in addition to U.S. Congressman Dave Loebsack.