G2. Olympic View Elementary School


From College Way N, turn left at N 92nd  St. After 0.6 mi turn left onto 5th  Ave NE. Turn right after 0.1 mi onto NE 95th  St; the school and large dial on its south-facing wall are easily seen on the left after 0.2 mi.

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The beginnings of this dial were in astronomy lessons (under the auspices of Project Astro/Seattle) that Woody Sullivan gave in Melanie Olsen’s Grade 4-5 classroom at Olympic View Elementary School in early 1998. A plan emerged to construct a large dial for the school’s southern wall, and to have the students participate. Parent expertise of Bill Fetterley (architect) and Cynthia Livak (artist) was vital.

The 5-ft (1.5 m)-long gnomon emerges from a mountain range profile and consists of a swooping stainless steel eagle (the school mascot with a 30-inch (75 cm) wingspan) holding an “orb” in its beak; the orb comprises two perpendicular rings of 4.5-inch (11 cm) diameter. One reads the time and estimates the date from the position of the orb’s shadow (see the close-up photo). The shape of the shadow of the eagle’s wings changes throughout the day. Each of the 29 children in the class made a design on a 8-inch (20-cm) diameter ceramic plate that was appropriate to the season of their birthday. The plates were then placed on the wall such that the shadow of the eagle’s orb crosses each child’s plate on his/her birthday. Thus the viewer sees winter-themed plates near the top of the dial pattern (the winter sun is low, so the shadow on the wall is high) and summer near the bottom, with a mixture of spring and autumn in the central portion. The large diamonds for the hour numerals were also originally ceramic, but in 2007 were replaced with stainless steel numerals.

Painted on the asphalt playground to the west of the school is an analemmatic sundial, the type where a person stands on a spot (according to the date), casting his/her own shadow and reading the time from an elliptical-shaped pattern on the ground. This dial was also a class project in 1999

Subpages (1): Y2. Cowen Park