Sculpting Massive Scenes with Balloons Brings a New Twist to STEM Education

Art & Sculpture Craft & Design Education
Sculpting Massive Scenes with Balloons Brings a New Twist to STEM Education
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Airigami’s Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle are no strangers to building large-scale balloon sculptures. Ever since 2004, they have worked on everything from a 4-story underwater adventure, to a 65-foot tall balloon recreation of the space shuttle. For this year’s annual Balloon Adventure in Rochester, NY, they recreated a little bit of the nature you can find in upstate New York, titled “Journey on the Genesee”.


Over the span of four days of non-stop activity, a crew of 70 artists and crafters built the sculpture with over 40,000 balloons. Crew members came from as far as Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada, and all over the US just to be a part of the installation. Some had never worked in the balloon medium before, but were fascinated by previous Airigami projects and encouraged to participate. “Innovation is always enhanced with new perspectives. In the past we’ve had NASA engineers, graphic designers, and mechanics join the crew” says Larry.


Before the building began, Larry and Kelly visited several local YMCAs within the heart of Rochester to teach kids science, math, and engineering with balloons, covering where balloons come from and how they’re made. The kids were then taught how to make their own balloon dogs, which would later be used for the grass within the final sculpture. “We loved getting the chance to not only get the kids excited about a novel application for math and science, but to be able to combine the pieces they were making into the larger sculpture. There’s great symbolism in how the individual and simple balloon dogs are combined together to create a huge visual impact” says Kelly. “Many hands make light work and with balloons they’re even lighter”.


“Balloon Adventure: Journey on the Genesee” will be up through February 7th, when the whole installation will be celebrated with a large popping party. Afterwards, all of the balloons will be composted.

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Dan is the Community Manager at Make: Community. He is also a space enthusiast, event organizer, and co-chair of Maker Faire Rochester. Dan can often be found developing hands-on activities for maker events through Rochester and New York State.

View more articles by Daniel Schneiderman
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