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Students design prototype products for Alabama nonprofit

Thursday, January 28, 2016


LAWRENCE — Over winter break 14 students from the Departments of Design and Architecture traveled to Greensboro, Alabama. There, they spent 12 to 16 hours each day for two weeks designing, building, testing, breaking, rebuilding, sometimes cursing, but never giving up in their quest to develop two new products of made of locally sourced bamboo.

The fruits of their labors are prototype push-bikes and paddleboards that can be manufactured and marketed by local craftspeople who work at HERObike, a nonprofit bike shop in Greensboro. Professor of Industrial Design Lance Rake and Design Department Chair Andrea Herstowski, who have been bringing KU students to work with HERObike for some five years, led the students.

The intensive, hands-on experience enables students to learn to work in teams. During a 72-hour “design blitz” they were immersed in every aspect of the process of creating new products: a bamboo harvest in a torrential downpour, prototype production in HERObike’s shop. Their early drafts debuted during midnight push-bike trials on Greenboro’s main street and a sink-or-swim paddleboard launch on a nearby lake one morning at dawn.

“This immersive experience is a great way for students to practice what they know and push their comfort zones. They have to pick up new skills fast,” Herstowski said. “This is my fourth time down to Greensboro with students, and each time I am impressed with how well it goes. They are together 24 hours a day, housing is tight, deadlines are tight, and the days are long.”

The students learn about the effects of their decisions on the time, labor and costs of production, and what happens when their design doesn’t stand up to the rigors of everyday use. In particular, they gain an appreciation of how a successful design that can be manufactured and sold can positively affect the economy of an entire town.

“The two weeks I spent in Greensboro taught me more about teamwork, design and service than I could have learned in a semester. I feel honored to have been a part of a determined group of passionate people,” said Veronica Villhard, a St. Louis industrial design student.

Echoing Veronica's thoughts, architecture student Alexandra Frost, Omaha, said, “It was truly inspiring to get to work with such dedicated people and see design being used to help this town and its people.”

HERObike is one of a number of businesses opened by the Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization, a community development organization dedicated to ending rural poverty in areas in and around Hale County, where Greensboro is located.

”Our small rural Alabama town came alive when the Jayhawks arrived,” said Pam Dorr, of Hero Housing. “Everyone came away impressed by this group of caring students who gave up vacation time with friends and family to serve in Greensboro. It is inspiring to spend time with young people that share their talent and passion."

To see a gallery of Sidekick push-bike photos and videos made during the class, go to: https://go.ku.edu/27hP29.

Students who participated in the class include: Chelsea Anderson, Overland Park; Laura Blake, Derby; Kevin Bower, Lee's Summit, Missouri; Drew Buffkin, De Soto; Jacob Crawford, Lenexa; Lars Erickson, Olathe; Alexandria Frost, Omaha; Sydney Grimm, St. Louis; Alex Guinn, Overland Park; Jack Hoard, Topeka; Michael Hornsby, Kansas City, Missouri; Hanan El Shoubaki, Los Angeles; Veronica Villhard, St. Louis; and Rebekah Winegarner, Overland Park.



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Museum Events

Approaches to Teaching and Learning African American History
Thursday, January 18 | 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
The Commons, Spooner Hall, University of Kansas campus
This session will engage a variety of texts and academic disciplines and will benefit instructors teaching the 2017-18 KU Common Book, Citizen: An American Lyric. Please RSVP to firstyear@ku.edu.

Public Lecture: Representations of African American History in U.S. Politics and Popular Culture
Thursday, January 18 | 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St.
Free and open to the public. Dr. Pero Dagbovie will speak on representations of African American history in U.S. politics and popular culture as part of the Langston Hughes Center Diverse Dialogues on Race and Culture series.

What's in a Frame?
Friday, January 19 | Noon-1 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Dolph Simons Family Gallery, 316
1301 Mississippi St.
Join resident frame specialist and exhibition technician Dan Coester to learn how frames both protect paintings and shape our experiences with works of art. This behind-the-frames discussion focuses on significant restoration work completed for paintings on view in Civic Leader and Art Collector: Sallie Casey Thayer and an Art Museum for KU and includes examples of the restoration process and frames awaiting treatment.

Art Cart: Painted Fans
Saturday, January 20 | 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Sam and Connie Perkins Central Court, 317
1301 Mississippi St.
The Art Cart is a drop-in activity station where children and grown-ups enjoy hands-on art projects together, taking inspiration from original works of art. After traveling the world, Sallie Casey Thayer donated her collection of objects to KU to form what is now the Spencer Museum of Art. Learn about Mrs. Thayer and create a painted folding fan to start your own collection.

Slow Art Sunday: Steel Wool Peignoir
Sunday, January 21 | 2 p.m.-3 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Kemper Family Foundations Balcony, 408
1301 Mississippi St.
Slow down at the Spencer and spend time getting to know one great work of art. Slow Art Sunday features one work for visitors to contemplate and converse about with Museum staff. In January, get to know Steel Wool Peignoir by Mimi Smith.

Science on Tap: The Cambrian: More than just Trilobites
Wednesday, January 24 | 7:30 p.m.
Free State Brewing Co., 636 Massachusetts St.
The Cambrian is a time in Earth’s history when many modern animal relatives make their first appearance. It is also a time when many bizarre animals without modern relatives appear in the fossil record. At this Science on Tap, Dr. Julien Kimmig will talk about the diversity of animals during this amazing period and what it can teach us about the future of life on earth. 

Career Close-ups: Developing a Career in the Museum World
Friday, January 26 | 2 p.m.-4 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Auditorium 309
1301 Mississippi St.
Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to explore how any major can lead to a career in a cultural organization. A panel of museum professionals will share their experiences, followed by a networking reception and behind-the-scenes tours of KU’s museums. This year’s panelists include: Dina Bennett (Mulvane Art Museum, Washburn University), Glenn North (Black Archives of Mid-America), and Adrianne Russell (Cabinet of Curiosities). Advance registration is required at www.spencerart.ku.edu/career-closeups. Please register by January 24. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/476618689399321/
Sponsored by the Spencer Museum of Art, KU Natural History Museum, University Career Center, and the Museum Studies Program.

Final Friday: Community and Culture Closing Celebration
Friday, January 26 | 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Watkins Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St.
The Watkins, in partnership with the Max Kade Center and the Lawrence Opera Theatre, present an evening of 19th-century German-American music and cuisine.

Discovery Day: Celebrating Kansas
Sunday, January 28 | 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
KU Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd.
In honor of Kansas Day, join us for hands-on activities that are all about Kansas wildlife, plants and fossils. 

Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture: An Evening with Eve L. Ewing: Poetry in Context
Wednesday, January 31 | 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St.
Eve L. Ewing is a sociologist, poet, essayist, artist, and educator whose research focuses on racism, social inequality, urban policy, and the impact of these forces on American public schools and the lives of young people. Dr. Ewing earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is recognized as a leader and social influencer, especially in conversations involving academia, writing, black women, and the intersection of politics and popular culture. Sponsored by The Commons.

University in the Art Museum for Graduate Students
Thursday, February 1 | 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, 1301 Mississippi St.
University in the Art Museum introduces graduate students to opportunities for object-based teaching, learning, and research through collaborative partnerships with the Spencer Museum of Art. This workshop includes discussions led by graduate students in the departments of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Geography; and Atmospheric Science. Advance registration is required by Monday, January 29. Register online at https://spencerart.ku.edu/uam.

Extraordinary Animals: Awesome Adaptations
Sunday, February 4 | 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
KU Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd.
At this new monthly animal event, parents and children are invited to learn about animals of Kansas. Museum Animal Specialist Ashley Welton will offer presentations about animal adaptations using touchable specimens from the museums collections at 1:15, 1:45 and 2:15 pm. 

FeBREWary at the Watkins
Thursday, February 15 | 6 p.m.-9 p.m.
Watkins Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St.
The Watkins, in partnership with Lawrence Beer Co., presents an evening of beer, food, and knowledge! Enjoy beer and a fascinating talk on brewing provided by Lawrence Beer Co., plus food from local restaurants and an informal museum tour. Tickets are $15 for DCHS members, $20 for non-members. You may sign up online or contact the museum at 785-841-4109. We recommend buying in advance. Ages 21 and over only, please. More information and registration.

Winter Table: An Evening of Herpetology
Wednesday, February 28 | 6:30 p.m.
KU Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd.
A celebration of more than 100 years of KU herpetology research programs and the careers of Linda Trueb and Bill Duellman. Explore the Natural History Museum's reptile and amphibian collections and enjoy appetizers and drinks. Dine in the Panorama Gallery with KU herpetology scientists and students conducting reptile and amphibian research across the globe. 

6:30 pm: appetizers, drinks and science salon
7:00 pm: dinner and program
$50 per person 

Reserve your space now at the 2018 Winter Table by ordering tickets online. Tickets are $50 per person. You may also call 785-864-4450 to purchase by phone or you may purchase tickets at the museum lobby during business hours. Questions? Contact biodiversity@ku.edu or 785-864-4450.

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