Pictured in a mosaic at White Mountain Middle School, an animated sun donning sunglasses smiles on a red sports car zooming beneath it.

Pictured in a mosaic at White Mountain Middle School, an animated sun donning sunglasses smiles on a red sports car zooming beneath it.

"It's a solar-panel car," explains incoming eighth-grader Brendon Evans. "It's hope for a better environment for the world."

The scene, created by Evans and his classmates in an after-school art class, is one of 20 mosaics embellishing a 6-foot-tall icosahedron that White Mountain pupils and aspiring teachers from Southern Oregon University's education program built for the middle school's foyer.

An icosahedron is a 20-sided polyhedron with 120-degree interior angles.

Each year, students in SOU's art process and education theory class get teaching experience by working on an art project with pupils at White Mountain.

The class is required to earn SOU's master's degree in teaching.

"We were in the process of learning design curriculum and meaningful integration in art," said Shannon Ramaka, White Mountain art teacher and SOU instructor. "I told the students what materials we had. We knew we wanted to do some kind of mosaic. They brainstormed from there."

Students wanted to include symbolism representing education, youth and hope, so all the scenes stem from those ideas.

The middle school students participating in the project learn some new art techniques and gain exposure to college culture.

"It just shows all the techniques the kids have learned and how much each child improves through the years in that school," said JoAnna Frick, who was an eighth-grader last year. "Mosaics were pretty fun and doing grout and tiles was really interesting. You have to be really careful with the tile."

Assembling the massive structure was a lesson in geometry as well as patience, Ramaka said.

Each of the 20 triangles in the hollow polyhedron structure weighs 40 pounds and is supported by half-inch plywood, aluminum skirting and grout.

The students' first attempt in June to assemble the structure by bending 1/4-inch steel brackets failed.

In early July, a small group of students gathered to try again. Eight hours later, they succeeded in fastening the heavy triangles together using 40-inch strips of aluminum skirting.

The artwork will be unveiled to the student body at student-parent orientation Sept. 4.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.