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Learning Real World Skills - Creature Creating Art Class

Monster in lab
Photo: Chriss Glass

At the Berea High School in the Visual Effects and Design class, monsters, zombies and aliens are the norm. Teacher Jim Bycznski teaches a class that goes beyond art. Students collaborate to create masks, characters and special effects much like they would really do if they were working in a special effects studio. In fact sometimes they are working to create real projects for clients. Bycznski wanted his students to have fun and to have real world experience. Students learn traditional art skills as well as using moviemaking projects as subject matter. Students who have taken the first course continue on to more advanced and several graduates have gone on to attend Art, Film and Design Colleges.

According to Sara Bernard in Edutopia, "The class's local notoriety stretches from holiday floats to movie theater displays (most recently to promote the movies House of Wax and X-Men III). Students have constructed props and creatures for such independent films as The Substitute Student, The Cardinal and the Wrath of the Warthog, and Crops, a recent award winner at Ohio's Broken Lamp Film Festival. Classwork also includes the simple mechanics required for animatronics (a hand drill-powered electric chair, for instance), and even filmmaking of their own (a series of shorts is available for viewing on YouTube, and one group won a Gold Key from the 2000 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for their short film Project Cobra Strike)." Funding comes from grants donations and a small student fee of $30.

Students are given a lot of freedom to work directly with clients and students tend to focus on the work they produce rather than grades.Read more on Edutopia: Monster Mash:Real World Skills

See a student production below:





Next up, see An Edible Education