The Story of C.R.E.A.T.E.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Memorializing Your Work

After a while you just run out of room for memorabilia. I know that I cannot keep every project. Some of them contain expensive components that have to be re-used. Others are simply too big or too fragile. Still others are team efforts and, lets' face it, you can't win 'em all.

But recording and sharing projects is an important part of the design cycle and of the Maker ethos.

I recently completed a project at the Design, Do, Discover Conference in Palo Alto, Calif. I worked with a tremendous team of educators on a sound-visualization project based on Charlotte's Web. The project used farm-animal audio files, triggered by a Scratch-controlled Makey Makey along with a plastic membrane suspended over a speaker causing sugar to visibly vibrate with each sound. The trigger buttons were cartoon animals including the actual sound waveform, laser-engraved into plywood. This allowed users to also feel a representation of the sound.

I shot video and still images all along the design and construction process.

After the project was disassembled and the Makey Makey and speaker returned to the Bourn Lab at host Castilleja School, I grabbed the part of the project that I worked the most on: the vibrating membrane that showed sugar moving in concert with the animal sounds.

What I didn't think about was that the interior temperature of my car exceeded the point where the cup, under pressure of electrical tape and a rubber band, could hold its structural integrity.

Luckily, I had the video.

And the cow. I also grabbed the cow.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Mrs. Dickson's Protein Sprayer

Bear with me on this. I promise that I'll get to a very cool tinker-time tool.

During the last school year, CREATE shared duties as our school's art room, so I had a lot of contact with our fabulous art teacher, Mrs. Dickson. One day, she and I were talking and she made reference to a "protein sprayer." Since Mrs. Dickson grew up in her native Japan, and "protein sprayer" was such an unusual reference, after I stopped my silly giggling, I asked her to repeat herself. As it turned out, she had said "pro tennis player,' which actually did make contextual sense. And it got me thinking...

What was a protein sprayer? What if somebody tried to build one? What if students were given random nouns and verbs and asked to build the object suggested by that combination?

Here's the recipe:
  1. Generate a list of random nouns.
  2. Generate a list of random verbs.
  3. Print each list and cut the words up into separate pieces.
  4. Put the verbs into one container and the nouns into another.
  5. Have the students pick a noun and a verb.
  6. No matter what they pick, they are then committed to designing and building that thing and describing its function.
Imagine the possibilities when students build river separators or toothpaste concentrators or ghost traders...

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Taking charge, getting it done

It was just an afterschool 1st-grade tinker time session. But they came rushing in with a goal. It was a classmate's birthday and they were making a "cake." Their sense of mission was breathtaking. They were a well-oiled project management team.

They didn't have time to finish the cake, so they took the components away with them. I do know that they left just a bit more practiced in collaborating, solving problems and with more confidence in themselves.