Great Inflatable Thingy

Crosswinds Arts and Science School and Perpich Arts High School

12 September 2013

Media Advisory and Photo/Video Opportunity

Photos illustrate a previous Giant Inflatable Thingy project.

  • Contact: Debra Kelley,, 763-279-4167, 763-248-3527 cell
  • What: The Giant Inflatable Thingy project
  • Who: Crosswinds Arts and Science School and Perpich Arts High School students
  • When: 9:30-noon, Thursday, September 12
  • Where: Crosswinds Arts & Science School, 600 Weir Dr., Woodbury 55125
  • Directions: I-94 east to I-494 south, first exit onto Tamarack, turn right, then right again onto Weir, take first left onto Crosswinds driveway.Celebrating art in education with the giant inflatable thingy

Celebrating art in education
with the giant inflatable thingy

Perpich Arts High School artscience students will work with Crosswinds art and science students to construct “giant inflatable thingys” to celebrate National Arts in Education Week on Thursday, Sept. 12, 9:30 a.m.–noon, at Crosswinds in Woodbury.

The construction of the “thingys” will involve plastic drop cloths, scissors, packing tape and marking pens. The final products, none smaller than 10 feet tall, will be inflated and floated above the school, becoming visible to motorists on I-94 east if the “thingys” manage to float high enough. The thingys usually stay inflated for a maximum of two to three minutes, remaining tethered to the blower.

Construction planning will begin at 9:30 a.m., actual construction at approximately 10-10:30 a.m. and inflation should occur between 11:30 and noon.

The project will provide participants experience in design, materials science, meteorology, “inflationology” and art. Students in Perpich’s artscience program, grades 11-12, are focusing on energy-related projects this year and are participating in this service learning project as mentors to the younger Crosswinds students in grades six through 10.

Directions for the project emphasize two things:

  • the giant inflatable thingy has no function or purpose other than to exist, inflated
  • testing the thingy and accepting that it won’t ever work exactly as planned

National Arts in Education Week was established in 2010 when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution designating the second week of September for the observance. The resolution says, in part, that “arts education, comprising of a rich array of disciplines including dance, theater, media arts, literature, design and visual arts, is a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students.”

The Perpich artscience program is part of an international group, called the ArtScience Prize, in which students participate in an annual program that erases traditional boundaries between art and science. Students are led through an ideation process where they follow their passions, apply aesthetic and analytical skills, experiment, incubate their ideas in cultural forums and create innovations that are educational, humanitarian, cultural and/or commercial.

The Giant Inflatable Thingy project will serve as a community-building activity between Perpich and Crosswinds students as they both begin the school year in which “energy” is a theme. The plastic thingy will bring a playful, but visible focus to the problem with plastic – what to do with it when it’s no longer useful. Artscience coordinator, Debra Kelley, and artscience teacher, Tory Peterson, will challenge the students to think about solutions that might help the Medie community in Ghana, West Africa address this problem. Students from Perpich visited Medie in June as part of Perpich’s global learning program.

Perpich Center for Arts Education is a statewide agency created by the state legislature in 1985 that works to foster education in and through the arts. The agency operates the Perpich Arts High school, a statewide residential school for 11th and 12 graders, and Crosswinds Arts and Science School, an integration magnet school for students in grades six through 10 for students in the east metropolitan area. Perpich also provides a statewide arts library and professional development outreach services to all teachers, schools and districts in Minnesota.

To read more about National Arts in Education Week and research that shows the value of arts education in helping to close the achievement gap, lower high school drop-out rates and increase postsecondary college enrollment, please visit

Crosswinds Arts and Science School
is still accepting students for the 2013-14 school year.

More information can be found by calling Crosswinds at 651-379-2603. Perpich Arts High School is also accepting applications for the upcoming 2014-15 school year. For more information, contact 763-279-4200 or

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