Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bryan's Ironman Suit

"It all began with origami." 

One of my incredible ninth graders, Bryan, began the year interested in building models. He made guns out of glue and card board. He would watch YouTube videos to teach himself how to do it. Intricate and life-sized, his projects made me nervous at first. I know boys are interested in guns and violence and action and explosions--I have a boy after all and have taught them for twenty plus years. His fascination reminded me of what we know about boys and literacy,  of Newkirk's Misreading Masculinity and  Fletcher's Boy Writers. His models also reminded me of movie props I'd seen at a recent Maker Faire. He wanted to sell his gun models, but his parents weren't  keen on the idea.

His Dad convinced him to try building something else, so he began crafting an Ironman suit.Intrigued, I focused on the making and Bryan's interest and skill.

I talked to him about glue, paint, and current projects.  We talked about varnish. He was having trouble with the finish at one point, so I suggested maybe a thin coat of epoxy. I even loaned him some from my home studio. I shared what I knew and how I'd used it.  It didn't work for his model, but our conversations, before class, at the end of class, occasional asides, did. He shared his YouTube channel. I  subscribed.

Last Friday I stood at the door of my classroom to greet students as they arrived for class.

"It's done.  I finished it!" he said bounding up the stairs to our portable classroom.
"Awesome! That's fantastic! Are you going to wear it to the premier?"
"My Mom is calling the theater today to see if they will let me." Such a serious young man, he and his parents had the bases covered.   I encouraged him and told him that if he did wear it folks were likely to want pictures. They did. He emailed me several over the weekend and I had to share them. It's just amazing what he has created. I think one Facebook friend said it best, "Holy Cow! That's AMAZING."

It is. Even more amazing is how tenacious Bryan was about solving problems that came up during design and construction--from glue and templates to making a mannequin out of two by fours: he found solutions.

I have loved watching and hearing about Bryan's progress on the Ironman suit and was just thrilled that he finished in time to wear it to a local theater for the premier. Commitment counts. Passion matters. Join me in congratulating Bryan. Drop by his YouTube channel and leave him a comment. I'm sure he'd love to hear from you.


  1. It shows such passion, Lee Ann. Wow! I am impressed!

  2. Lee Ann,
    What I LOVE about this post is that you saw this student for who HE is and you honored his passion. There are so many Bryan's out there who go unnoticed.
    Thanks for posting!

    You can find me at http://conversationeducation.wordpress.com/

  3. He is incredible. I'm sure that he will be a set designer or costume designer in Hollywood! The guns, I admit, creep me out...but yeah, I can relate to the raising of them also. xo

  4. This is way cool. I'll bet he learned a lot along the way also. I may show his video to my freshmen classes on Friday during our Genius Time!

  5. What fun! I love the way you encouraged and supported Bryan - and, best of all, he was able to give theater goers quite a treat and bask in the glory as well.

  6. WOW, that is truly incredible! I'm sure he really appreciates your interest and care! I wish every student could find passion like that. My husband says to tell him that Adam Savage (from Mythbusters) got his start working with cardboard too! :-)