Scott Hampton's Kite Making | ARTrageous Online!
Meet the Kite Maker
Utah kitemaker Scott Hampton shares his passion and skill for kite making– a true nexus of art, science and math. Raised as an “army brat” and moving from school to school, he recounts how he rose in the ranks from a checked out student doodling in class to becoming a visual arts teacher and kite maker, wowing festival crowds with his unique and colorful life-like figure kites.
“Imagination is the highest kite one can fly.” Lauren Becall
Module 1 - Math and Science of Kite Making
Class: English, Social Studies, Library Media, Art, Film Study
Grades: 7-12 | Time: 2.5 Hours
Platform: Online Learning Management System (LMS) with synchronous learning option (e.g., Zoom, Google Classroom)
Tech Tools: Google Document, YouTube, Jamboard
Arts Integration Project
Teacher and artist Scott Hampton started making kites in the 1990s and was hooked after designing and building his first kite. Not only did this huge kite actually fly, but he enjoyed the challenge of the multi-step process– from initial drawing and design; to building the aeronautical structure; to cutting, sewing and painting the fabric. In the video presentation for this module, Scott shares how he developed his innovative methods that have led to colorful, crowd-pleasing zebras, emus, alpacas and giraffes with batting eyelashes, soaring high above us in the sky.
“Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.” Winston Churchill
"The optimist pleasantly ponders how high his kite will fly; the pessimist woefully wonders how soon his kite will fall.” William Arthur Ward, Author.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES – In this Module, students will:
This module is organized around the Art Math & Science of Kite Making video presentation by Scott Hampton. It can be used as a whole learning experience, or in chosen sections as time allows:
- 40 minutes: Launch Activity–Pre-Viewing: Accessing Previous Knowledge: The Art, Math, and Science of Kite Making
- 25 minutes: While Viewing: Learning about the Art, Math, and Science of Kite Making & Kite Flying
- 30 minutes: Post-Viewing: Synthesizing and Visualizing: Turning Your KWL Chart Into A Kite Diagram
- 90+ minutes: Demonstration: Diving Deeper into the Art, Math & Science Of Kite Making and Kite Flying
- 120 minutes: Making Connections: Arts Integration Project–Mini Kite Making & Flying
[Learning Objectives 1]
- Hook: Ask students to share any experiences they have had either building or flying kites. What did the kite look like? Where were they? Did they get it into the air? Was there enough wind? What was their technique? How did they manipulate the string? Did they have to run? *Note: Teachers might kick this off with their own kite story.
- Acknowledge that anyone who has flown (or tried to fly a kite) has experienced many of the same challenges because successfully flying depends on so many variables, namely how the kite is built, the techniques of the person flying the kite, and environmental factors.
- Think-Pair-Share Using the KWL Chart (PDF)
Students will brainstorm and record what they know; what they want to know; and what they will learn about the art, math, and science of kites:
a. Think: Give students 5 minutes to fill out the “K” and “W” parts of the graphic organizer for all three categories: art, math, and science.
b. Pair: Put students into pairs and let them discuss their ideas for 5 minutes. Ask them to add any ideas or questions they generate in their peer discussion.
c. Share: When the class comes together, invite volunteers to share their ideas and get feedback from others.
- Introduce the video
a. Tell the students they are going to watch a video on Salt Lake Kite Maker Scott Hampton. If this is their first introduction to Scott (an option is to have them watch the video “Meet the Kite Maker” prior), read the brief intro blurb about him: Salt Lake teacher and artist Scott Hampton started making kites in the 1990s and was hooked after designing and building his first kite. Not only did this huge kite actually fly, but he enjoyed the challenge of the multi-step process– from the initial drawing and design; to building the aeronautical structure; to cutting, sewing and painting the fabric. In the video presentation for this module, Scott shares how he developed his innovative methods that have lent to colorful, crowd-pleasing zebras, emus, alpacas and giraffes with batting eyelashes, soaring high above us in the sky.
Add that in this video, Scott shares his unique and innovative kite making process and discusses why kites might fly better on the coast versus in the mountains.
b. Ask if anyone wants to try answering this question before watching the video?
[Learning Objective 2,3]
1. Tell students: As you watch the video Math, and Science of Kite Making & Flying (14 min) fill in the “What I Learned (L)”column on the KWL chart.
2. Play, pausing as appropriate for students to fill in their KWL chart.
3. Discuss. Start with the question, “Why do kites fly better on the coast versus in the mountains?” Have students share other things they learned either by typing in the chat room or as a class discussion.
[Learning Objective 4]
- Have students turn their KWL chart into a diagram. (Students may need to access the internet to complete this task.) They can choose to draw any shape of kite they want and add any graphics and color. Remind them that their diagram should reflect what they know and learned about the math and science of kites. You might suggest they think about the material that makes up the kite along with spars, bridal, tail, etc.; symmetry and angles of their kite; as well as the forces that are in play, allowing (or not) a kite to fly (drag, weight (gravity), thrust, and lift).
a. Low Tech Option: Sketch, color, and label a kite diagram on paper
b. Jamboard (Jamboard is an application in the Google platform. It acts as a virtual whiteboard where you can draw, write and collaborate.) Set up a Jamboard for this activity and have each student create their kite diagram on a page.
Demonstration: Diving Deeper into the Math & Science Of Kite Making and Kite Flying
[Learning Objective 5,6]
- Tell the students: Our Arts Integration Project for this unit is to design and build mini kites, applying all you are learning about the art, science and math involved in making and flying kites. Before that, we are going to learn more about the art, math, and science of kites.
- The Science of Kite Flying
a. Ask students (either as a 2 minute chatstorm or in a class discussion where one student scribes what is said on the whiteboard) to recap what they have learned so far about the “art of kite making.” Tell them in this next activity, we are going to explore the science of how kites fly.
b. Jigsaw Activity: Opportunity for Peer Instruction [Part 1 of 2]
i. Divide students into 4 groups. Each group will be assigned one of the physical forces that act on a kite as it flies.
1. Group 1: Lift
2. Group 2: Gravity
3. Group 3: Thrust
4. Group 4: Drag
c. Tell students: Watch the clip about the Physics of Flight
As you watch the clip, think about how natural forces work together to allow flight. Students in each group should make notes to be able to explain to others how the particular force they are assigned to works to impact flight.
Jigsaw Activity: Opportunity for Peer Instruction [Part 2 of 2]
Option 1 - Reorganize students into new groups so that there is one representative from each original group. Each group member shares what they learned from their article or video clip.
Option 2 - Bring all students back together to discuss as a class. Invite one volunteer from each group to share what their group learned from their article or video clip.
d. Class Discussion: What did you find most surprising, or interesting about the art of kite making?
- The Math of Kite Making: Symmetry, Angles, and Congruence
a. Hook: Tell students that the biggest kite in the world is called the “Mega Kite” and it was made by Peter Lynn and David Gomberg from New Zealand who hold the Guinness World Record. The kite weighs 500 pounds and is flown on a 20-ton line. The kite is the flag of the country Kuwait, who purchased and now own the kite.
b. Ask students (either as a 2 minute chatstorm or in a class discussion where one student scribes what is said on the whiteboard) to recap what they have learned so far about the “math of kite making.”
c. Tell them that many kite makers are engineers whose designs involve a lot of math. Review the following mathematical terms, relevant to kite making and kite flying and provide some examples:
i. Symmetry- the quality of being made up of exactly similar parts facing each other or around an axis. (Butterfly wings)
ii. Reflection- A mirror image (in a plane mirror) is a reflected duplication of an object that appears almost identical, but is reversed in the direction perpendicular to the mirror surface.
iii. Ratio- the quantitative relation between two amounts showing the number of times one value contains or is contained within the other.
iv. Congruence- two figures or objects are congruent if they have the same shape and size, or if one has the same shape and size as the mirror image of the other. (an equilateral triangle has 3 congruent sides and three congruent angles totalling 180 degrees.)
d. Symmetry: Tell students that kites that are built symmetrically are easier to fly since the surface area is equally distributed on each side of the frame and therefore the kite is balanced.
e. You might remember seeing in Scott’s video half of a full size prototype of one of his space cadets. The reason for this is when Scott designs a symmetrical kite, to save time and resources, he often only designs half the image. Then he uses a mirror which he places perpendicular along the axis of the spine of the drawing to get a reflection and see what the finished design would look like. Show students these two images of Scott's process: Reflection 1 (JPG) and Reflection 2 (JPG).
f. Once Scott decides on a design, he completes both sides and then needs to scale it up in order to turn it into a kite. He uses a ratio to scale it up, so that the full-sized kite is proportionally accurate. For instance if one side of his kite drawing is 6 inches and he wants the side of the actual kite to be 7 feet (84 inches) the ratio is 6:84, where the difference in value is 14. He would then multiply all measurements in his design by 14.
g. Scott prefers to build asymmetrical kites for the challenge. Getting the kite in balance depends on the kite bridle– the arrangement of strings that go between a kite and the flying line. The bridle holds the kite at a certain angle to the flying line. It affects how the kite flies, and whether it flies at all. On an asymmetrical kite, the bridling will also be asymmetrical, meaning the strings on one side might need to be longer or shorter to compensate for the variance in surface area. By calculating the surface area of different parts of the kite, Scott figures out the bridle lengths that will create a balanced kite. Some of these kites require a tail to create drag, stabilizing the kite in flight. An example of an asymmetrical figure kite you saw in the video that cannot fly without a tail is Scott’s giraffe.
h. For some kites, Scott has to measure a lot of angles, not only for aesthetic, but also for balance. Take a look at these three kites: Shaman (PDF), Sundial Shaman (PDF) and Featherhead (PDF). The sun rays and feathers for the headdresses needed to be 30, 60 and 90 degrees apart.
i. Pass students this link to this interactive website, Math is Fun , where they can learn and manipulate into kite angles, sides and diagonals.
ii. Have students watch this video: Basic Geometric Properties of Kites (13:35 min). (The video explains how to calculate the area of a quadrilateral kite (4-sided polygon) using the length of its two diagonals and how to determine the hypotenuse and perimeter of a kite using the pythagorean theorem (a2 + b2= c2)) to calculate the missing sides.)
*Note: You can later have them figure out the geometric properties (area, perimeter, etc.) of their mini kites after they make them in the arts integration activity.
- The Science of Kite Making
a. Ask students (either as a 2 minute chatstorm or in a class discussion where one student scribes what is said on the whiteboard) to recap what they have learned so far about the “science of kite making.”
b. Brainstorm: Either as a class or in breakout rooms, ask students to reflect on these questions: How have kites helped us in the past to progress technologically? How are kites being used today to advance technology?
c. Have students research the answers to both the questions above, using either the two resources below, or letting them find their own:
i. Article: Kite History- In the history of flight, the first lighter-than-air balloon (1783) and the first powered aircraft (1903) are very recent when compared with the age of kites.
ii. Short Film: High Altitude Wind Energy from Kites- (5 min) “Saul Griffith is an inventor - in this video he unveils the invention his new company Makani Power has been working on–giant kite turbines that create surprising amounts of clean, renewable energy. Ask students to record answers to the two questions above while watching. * to see what this looks like: Makani’s first offshore energy kite flight (2:15 min)
*Note: You can take this further by having students work independently to research and discover more about harnessing wind energy from kites (For example, pulling cargo ships with kites.) Have them write an essay (low tech) or produce a mixed media presentation (high tech) on the potential of kite technologies.
[120 min ]
[Learning Objective 7,8]
- Tell the students: Our Arts Integration Project for this unit is to design and build mini “Eddy” kites, applying what you learned about the art, science and math that is involved in making kites.
- Explain that an “Eddy” kite is a stable diamond-shaped kite named after the inventor, William Abner Eddy, who built this kite for the first time in 1890.
- The arts project takes some gathering of materials. If you are teaching remotely, you might introduce the project ahead of time to allow students time to do this. Teachers: You can choose either Option 1 or 2 for creating the kite design.
a. Option 1: Using crayola markers and salt on a coffee filter
b. Option 2: Using shaving cream and food dye to imprint on a coffee filter
c. Or, you can present both options and let the students choose
- Play Demo Videos Option 1 and/or Demo Videos Option 2 as a class, or pass the links to students to watch them in pairs or on their own. Have students work in pairs. Review materials and steps before they get started.
- Have students create their designs on the coffee filters using either Option 1 or Option 2.
- Have students create a mini kite template. (Another option to save time is to make these prior and hand them out to students to trace onto their coffee filters.)
a. Use a piece of thin cardboard such as a cereal box.
b. Cut out the kite diagram from the Mini Kites Template (PDF). NOTE: * In the "How-To" videos that accompany this activity the 3" diamond template is used.
c. Trace around the outside of your kite template on your coffee filter.
- Have students watch the Building Kites videos to create their individual mini kites. (Younger students might need help with some of the more dexterous steps.)
- Showcasing the Kites
a. Option 1 - Asynchronous: Use Padlet to showcase students’ kites using the Wall Template. Students’ can title their submission with their names and write something and then upload an image of their kite to the wall for a gallery effect. Peers can view outside of class and post written or oral responses to peers’ videos.
b. Option 2 - In Class: Make time in class for students to fly their mini kites around the room or outside. You might consider playing music as they do this.
- American Kite Flyers Association - The AKA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing kiting with the world in order to educate the public in the art, history, technology, and practice of building and flying kites.
- Instructables - Inventor Saul Griffith looks for elegant ways to make real things, from low-cost eyeglasses to a kite that tows boats. His latest projects include open-source inventions and elegant new ways to generate power.
- How to Make A Sled Kite - This kite is one that Scott Hampton taught hundreds of students to build every year, because it is cheap, easy to make, and flies very well.
- Building Kites - Building a math mindset through engagement and creative play.
- Kite Project - Cross-curricular lesson plan where students are instructed to research the history, science, and design of kites; design a blueprint of their kite and find the measurements, scale factor, area, and perimeter of their blueprint; and construct and fly their kite.
- Lord of the Wind Kiteboarding Competition - This growing kiteboarding sport and competition involves kiters from all over the world who come to show off their tricks but with a goal to support the local community.
- Malaysia’s Dying Art: Traditional Kite Making in Peril (Video)
- Shirone Kite Battles Part 1 (Video: National Geographic)
- Shirone Kite Battles Part II (Video: National Geographic)
- Handmade Kites Fly High in Vietnam’s Centuries-Old Festival (Video)
Module 2 - Cultural Identity: Kite Culture Around the World
Class: English, Social Studies, Library Media, Art
Grades: 7-12 | Time: 2 Hours
Platform: Online Learning Management System (LMS) with synchronous learning option (e.g., Zoom, Google Classroom)
Tech Tools: Jamboard
Watch the YouTube Videos Related to This Lesson Plan on YouTube >
See the Complete List of Videos on Our YouTube Playlist >
Arts Integration Projects
For Salt Lake kite maker Scott Hampton, not only are kites a creative outlet of self expression, but also a way to explore the world. Gaining recognition for his unique and colorful designs, he has traveled to kite festivals all over the world, meeting new people, seeing their art, learning new techniques, and experiencing their customs and culture. In the video presentation for this module, Scott shares his experience with kite culture and reflects on what this has meant to his own life.
“[Flying a kite with my friends] is one of the seminal memories of growing up for me.” Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner
“Hope is knowing that people, like kites, are made to be lifted up.” - Afghanistan Relief Organization
LEARNING OBJECTIVES – In this Module, students will:
This module is on the Kite Culture video presentation by Scott Hampton. It can be used as a whole learning experience, or in chosen sections as time allows.
- 15 minutes: Launch Activity–Pre-Viewing: An Introduction to Kites in Afghanistan
- 10 minutes: While Viewing: Learning about Kite Festivals and Culture Across the World
- 15 minutes: Post-Viewing: Sharing and Inquiry
- 75+ minutes: Demonstration: Researching Kite Cultures Around the World
- 45+ minutes: Making Connections: Arts Integration Project - Kite Culture Infographic Posters From Around the World
[Learning Objective 1]
- Hook: Tell students that to introduce this topic you are going to play them and excerpt from the film Kite Runner, adapted from the novel Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (2:45 min, But relevance to kite fighting ends after 1 minute).
- Ask students to discuss the clip: where do you think this took place? What were the boys doing with the kites? Any other observations?
- Explain that “kite running” has been a favorite pastime in Afghanistan for the last 100 years. And there is a big kite fighting festival in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, where thousands of people, families come together and fight kites. (Show them where Afghanistan is on a map, pointing out Kabul) Kite-running is a two-person job, one person is in charge of holding the wooden kite spool of string; the other is in control of the movement of the kite in the air. They often stand on rooftops of buildings and the object is to strike down the kites of your opponents, by cutting the string of another’s kite with yours. The strings are made with razor wire or impregnated with glass, which gives it the sharpness to cut down other kites. After a kite is cut, it floats away into the wind and the local children run to get it, to fix it up and fly it themselves.
- Tell students that they will be studying and learning more about kite culture around the world. In many countries across the world, kites are more than a recreational pastime, but rather they are works of art; they bring community together; and they represent tradition and culture.
- Share the introductory blurb about Scott with students. Tell them: We are now going to listen to Scott Hampton as he tells us how for him, not only are kites a creative outlet of self expression, but also a way to explore the world. Gaining recognition for his unique and colorful designs, he has traveled to kite festivals all over the world, meeting new people, seeing their art, learning new techniques, and experiencing their customs and culture.
[Learning Objective 2,3]
- Tell students to take notes as they listen and consider the following questions:
a. What did Scott teach you about kites that you didn’t know?
b. What did you learn about kites in different countries?
- Tell them to be prepared to discuss 2 takeaways from their notes- 2 things they learned that were interesting, or surprising.
[Learning Objective 2,3]
- In groups of 3-4 in breakout rooms or at a table, and have them share their takeaways. Did they have many of the same ones?
- In these same small groups, have students come up with 3 questions or things they want to know more about regarding kites and kite culture.
- Come back as a class and ask a spokesperson from each group to present the 3 questions or topics they want to learn more about.
[Learning Objective 3,4,5]
- Tell students that they will be producing (either individually or in pairs) an infographic poster for their arts integration project on the kite culture of a country of their choice.
- Show students some examples of infographic posters on piktochart.com. Explain that infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly. Add icons are some of the most universal communication tools available, crossing language and cultural boundaries. Explain that the purpose of the assignment is to turn their research into this universal language and use their infographics posters to teach their peers about the kite culture in countries across the world.
a. Play Welcome to the Exciting World of Kite Fights & Kite Flying (9:14 min)
Think: Pass out the Appendix B handout and have students answer the questions individually as they watch. You might give them a few minutes to finish at the end.
i. What are a few reasons people across the world fly kites? To mark the change of the seasons/ to celebrate Holy days
ii. What does the Makar Sankranti kite festival in India symbolize? Follows the movement of the sun and symbolizes the decline of winter and start of spring- represents a fresh start
- i. What is kite fighting? When opponents try to cut each others line in the air
i. What is manja and how is this an artform? This is the kite string or thread infused with glass or razor wire to make it sharp. Making the thread is done by artisans who take great pride in their techniques and end product. Making manja is something passed down generation to generation.
i. Describe one kite making technique you learned
i. Why do people from around the world show up to this festival to fly? To relieve stress, showcase their skills, freedom, joy, to find community, to kite fight
Pair: Put students in pairs to discuss their answers. Then tell them to complete the lower portion of the handout, that asks them to recall what types of things they learned in the video. We want topics more than specifics. For example, they learned kite making techniques. This will help guide them when deciding what to research for their infographic poster.
Share: As a class invite a couple volunteers to share their ‘research topics list.’ This might include information on history and tradition, geographical location, cross-generational stories, festivals, kite making techniques, materials, or what is going on today, etc.
- Have students, either individually or in pairs, select a country to research. The list in Appendix A includes 11 countries (and includes a few research resources to get students started) where kites have played a cultural role. Tell students they are welcome to search for other countries with kite cultures as this list is not comprehensive.
- Research: Have students research the kite culture in their select country.
- *Note: Remind students they are looking for information, data, or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly. Tell them to access the research topics list they generated on the Appendix B handout.
[Learning Objective 6,7]
- Introduce the Activity. Remind students they will be creating infographic posters (either individually or in pairs). Consider showing students examples of infographic posters on piktochart. Remind them that infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data, or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly. Add icons are some of the most universal communication tools available, crossing language and cultural boundaries. Explain that the purpose of the assignment is to turn their research into this universal language and use their infographics posters to teach their peers about other countries across the world through their kite culture and couture (designs).
- Getting started: Have students review their research and highlight concepts they think will work best on their poster.
- Visualization: Tell students they are going to brainstorm and find or design symbols that represent what they have researched. Explain that this is like branding their information to catch the audience’s attention. For example, if they want to explain something about a festival held every year on the coast, they could use a symbol like a tent or wavy lines for water.
Option. Google infographic symbols and play a game with students where they come up with what they think the symbol represents.
The noun project is the largest bank of iconography in the world, and it is royalty free. Just search a word (such as festival) and several icons will appear that you can easily download. It is also a place just to get ideas.
- Next, ask each student or pair to use either an online tool (e.g. piktochart) or paper and art supplies to create their infographic poster. Give them 45+ minutes to work.
*Note: As the teacher you could create your own infographic. If you do so prior to class, you can present it as a model.
- Presentation: Have students present their posters. Discuss the value of learning about this cultural tradition, and facilitate peer feedback. Here are some options for showcasing student work:
a. Zoom (breakout rooms)
b. Canvas (discussion forums)
c. Flipgrid (create & share student videos)
d. Padlet (Create a board where students can pin their work and leave comments for peers).
e. Google Drive (use Google slides or a Google folder)
- Bali Kite Culture- [...at the other end of the string you are going to find a group of boys or teenagers. Most start flying kites (layang layang) at a very young age and it is often through bonding with their fathers or grandfathers.]
- History of Kites- The American Kite Fliers Association reviews the origins and uses of kites around the world and across the ages
- Kite Runner– Book by Khaled Hosseini. Adapted into a film by Director, Marc Forster.
- Pinterest- Check out lots of kite art and kite festival images here
- Facebook- Join a Kite Group on Facebook. Depending on your interests, there are groups on stunt kite classics, kite fighting, kiteboarding, and kite making where they share techniques
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