Bostik, Inc. (bostik-us.com), one of the world’s largest manufacturers of adhesives and sealants, recently joined up with its strategic partner Artaic Innovative Mosaic, (artaic.com) to host 15 elementary students from Boston’s Eliot K-8 Innovation School. The event took place at Artaic’s facility in the Boston’s Innovation District (located in the Seaport) for a hands-on, learning experience focusing on the art of mosaic tile design, manufacture and installation.
The afternoon’s lesson plan included three individual “stations” where students learned about Artaic’s cutting-edge, software and robotic technologies, which have been developed to design and fabricate custom mosaic tile productions… from concept through completion.
First stop was the Computer Software Station where students learned about digital artwork design including converting of an image into a finished mosaic using Artaic’s proprietary software. Artaic’s personnel answered questions from the students and demonstrated how easily the computer can pixilate any image and prepare it for robotic mosaic fabrication. They watched on a large monitor as Artaic personnel took a simply drawn image and quickly had it rendered into a mosaic design.
With clipboards, questionnaires in hand and safety goggles in place, the enthusiastic students were then lead over to see the actual mosaic robots in action. This is where they met “Arty”, one of the robots responsible for “planting” the tiny tiles into to make up the mosaics. Arty’s “human monitor” showed the kids the ins and outs of the robot, and exactly what was needed to keep Arty working properly. The goal here was for students to understand how robots and humans can actually work collaboratively to create a mosaic. And, how robots can help people get their work done more efficiently and accurately. They asked questions about the components of the robot, how fast the robot worked and one student even inquired, “Does the Robot ever get tired?”
Next up… actual hands-on creating of a mosaic. Prior to their visit, the students had created their own original mosaic design on paper in a “color by number” pattern. They were given individual grids, bins of numbered colored glass Tiles… and then, were timed on how quickly they could assemble a small mosaic tile design. Because the students had just witnessed how quickly “Arty” could assemble the tile; now they compared that to their time to his. Lesson learned: “Arty” is much faster and precise than humans! Arty is good at repetitive and mundane tasks, while humans are good at creative and analytical functions.
Final step…grouting their mosaics. Scott Banda, Bostik’s Director of Marketing & Business Development, Consumer & Construction Business Unit, took the students through each step of grouting and installation of the mosaics. He patiently introduced them to the tools and materials of the trade as Banda demonstrated proper grout application technique. Using Bostik’s Dimension™ RapidCure™, a patented, glass-filled, ready-to-use, water based, urethane grout, Banda had the opportunity to touch on recycling, as the material he was using was made from 60% recycled glass. “It was great to see the level of understanding and enthusiasm that the children had for recycling in general, “ Banda explained. “It was clear to me that the Eliot is teaching those values and helping shape the mindset of our kids!”
Banda was quite adamant as he reviewed safety precautions taken in working with the installation materials. The students listened intently, watching him fill the grout joints. Banda discussed the importance of this last and final step of creating the mosaic. The grout used was a fast-setting material so the students would be able to take their masterpieces home to their parents the very next day. This is the same material the company sells globally in both the do-it-yourself and commercial markets.
“Seeing the crossover in a real world application between art, technology, robotics and installation was inspiring for our third graders!” declared the Eliot School’s Huijing Wu. “One of my students said THIS is where he wants to work when he grows up because it lets him combine his love of robotics with his creativity in art. They came away with a whole new understanding of what it means to be creative in the digital world!”
After the students left, Banda had his own reflection in working with the students and stated “They watched everything so intently and with so much curiosity, it makes me believe that we may have, in some way, made an impact today. Even if it were just one student, it’s important to remember that these young people are the future. At Bostik, we believe that in order to keep the building design and construction industry moving forward, it’s important to not only promote technology but to make a concentrated emphasis on the importance of tradesmen and their mastered skills.”
“These students are the future of our industry and the key to keeping our nation’s infrastructure intact. Promoting not only products, but also the skilled manual labor needed is imperative, “ Banda continued.
Bostik and Artaic’s ultimate goal is to offer this learning program to many more students in the Boston area and have all intentions to make this a national program in the future. Artaic Founder and CEO, Dr. Ted Acworth said, “Technology and its impacts on the workplace and society can be scary to the unfamiliar. By showing these kids that technologies such as robots and software can actually be an enabler and not a threat, we hope to excite them about the possibilities and inspire them to pursue meaningful careers.”
Traci Walker-Griffith, Principal of the Eliot School stated, “Our students came back from their visit so energized! I am so grateful to Artaic and Bostik for inspiring our students to engage in cross-disciplinary study with all of our specialists. Their support gives our students the opportunity to deepen their understanding of how the arts and robotics fit together in the real world.”