Glass blowing studio becomes classroom for Snowhill students

Watching the orbs of glass spin and glow into fanciful ornaments for the Christmas tree was mesmerizing for Emily Hasecke, seeing the beauty of science meld before her.

“It was really cool. It’s really hot over there but it’s neat to see the glass form and (see) how it changes colors,” the Snowhill Elementary sixth grader said.

Sixth-grade students were invited to a special demonstration at the Doug Frates Glass studio at 32 N. Fountain Ave. They’re learning about volcanoes and the extreme temperatures of magma and lava. The molten glass in the furnaces is just about as close as they can get to the real thing in southwest Ohio, said Larry Marple, science and social studies teacher.

“We talk about how many thousands of degrees it is and then as they come here and see it, (they) are actually within arm’s length of it,” Marple said.

A safe and easy lesson included making glass ornaments. A metal rod collects molten glass from inside a furnace. It’s kept at more than 2,000 degrees. It’s then rolled onto colored glass beads and put in another furnace to melt together. Students then help blow air into the glass, forming a round glass ball, said owner Doug Frates.

“It’s all feel,” he said. “Learning your technique and learning your style, learning the consistency of the glass. Then there’s also all sorts of science behind it.”

Each student got to take home their own glass ornament.

While the day also included a tour of downtown Springfield and a stop at the Heritage Center, Frates said he hopes the time in the studio fostered a love of art and learning.

“I want them to go home and be excited about their day,” he said. “I want them to be thrilled they got to make an ornament.”

For Hasecke, there’s no doubt the day left a lasting impression.

“It was great. I’ll probably hang it in my room just to say I went on a field trip in sixth grade to a glass blowing studio.”

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