As our second Media Arts Camp of the summer is drawing to a close, it strikes me how much the group has grown in the past week. We began the camp with multiple examples of stop- motion, and throughout the week students who had formally never heard of this form of animation are now bringing in their own examples and making multiple other short stop- motion videos at home. Their sets were creative, ideas lively and thriving, and the final films edited with care. We will be celebrating their achievements with an animation fest, during which they will screen their final products for the class and for their parents and explain their process. This will require using elements of professionalism and presentation skills, which myself, Wayne, and Leigh(co- teachers and fellow PAA members) have been embedding in the lessons throughout the week. Here are their finished animations and websites!
Monthly Archives: June 2014
The first media arts camp brought about some extraordinary animations from the Middleburg students. I was very impressed with their focus and team work, particularly when it came to the editing, final touches, and pulling all the elements together as a group(or “studio”). I was also impressed with how eager they were to share their processes and ideas with the class. Towards the end of the week, students who were ahead or finished with their animations were assisting other groups and teaching them about software they themselves had only just learned about.
I certainly learned a great deal about how unique each group dynamic can be; something I may do differently in the future is have the students group up with those they “link” with in the beginning. We played a game called linked in which we said our names, and a fact about ourselves, and if a person shared that fact they would stand next to their link until everyone was linked together in a circle. Instead of choosing groups randomly with a count-off, it may be better to have them work with people they feel a connection with, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant that connection may seem. Another thing I will be tweaking in our next camp is the types of programs used, in order to make the editing process a bit smoother. While using iPads and iStop- Motion was a huge success, We will be using iMovie to do the bulk of the editing instead of pushing Adobe Flash. Although the websites are up and running, we will also include a lesson on professionalism when we teach the program iWeb.
One thing that worked out excellently was the inclusion of the parents in our final Animation Fest. The students really enjoyed showcasing their work, and the parents enjoyed the fest as well.
The final animations and websites can be viewed here!
Kindergarteners, grade- schoolers, and a bunch of buckets and sticks- they loved it!
For this workshop, I was assisting a PAA artist/musician in teaching about percussion instruments and sound. Percussion is derived from a Latin word meaning “to strike”, and the children certainly took this to heart as they went on to create and strike their own drums and shakers from recycled objects such as buckets, pans, cardboard, beans, water bottles, glass jars, and many other random recycled items.
I learned that there is a balance for teaching a workshop like this for such a young age group, a balance between total freedom and structure. Total freedom is excellent for creativity, fostering it and helping it thrive. Indeed, the children loved the full hour they had to try and fail, and try and succeed in getting just the sound they wanted. In the end, the drums and shakers and unnamed percussion instruments were all unique both in look and sound. However, after all that freedom they required structure, in order to learn a subject that is very structured: music. Following the burst of creativity was an hour of learning about beats and note structures. They were learning in two different ways without even realizing it.
I loved jamming with the kids on the drums, and I’m looking forward to helping with more workshops and learning more about lesson structure and learning patterns.
This past week of camps and teaching has been a whirlwind for us, as we raced between three separate camps all across the Cleveland area to help teach and assist students in a variety of mediums. Our main camp has been our week- long Media Arts Camp, in which students at the Middleburg Heights Public Library are creating stop- motion animations(soon to be uploaded).
More on that to come, but for now I’d like to focus on our Design Challenge workshop at Orange Recreation Center. This hour and a half long workshop took 30 4th and 5th graders, broke them into groups of five, and challenged each group to create their own ultimate marble roller coasters. The groups were challenged to keep in mind a few basics of physics such as gravity, and kinetic and potential energy.
We kept our intro short and sweet so as to give the groups a full hour to create their coasters. To create the groups, we did a count off so that the groups would be more random. We only gave the teams two rules in creating their coasters: 1.) Each coaster must carry a marble both UP and DOWN at least one hill. 2.) Each team must incorporate at least ONE ITEM from the “Mystery Bag”. The mystery bag was simply a bag compiled with a random selection of items thought to add an additional challenge to the coaster creation process. Many teams chose to use more than one item to spice up their rides. Originally we had planned to hold a race, with prizes for the winners, but the coasters were immovable and a race was impossible to do without compromising the structural integrity of the coasters. If we were to do a race in the future, an added rule would be that each coaster would have to be free standing.
We gave each team a selection of cardboard(both boxes and flat boards), multiple toilet paper and paper towel roles, a yardstick, duck tape and masking tape, scissors, and a “Mystery Bag” item. More cardboard, tape, scissors, tape, and mystery items were available upon request. The mystery items were very random, ranging from cellophane to paint stirrers to carpet squares to pieces of pool noodles. PAA member Marcus ran a cutting station with cutting mats and utility knives, in order to assist the students with any heavy- duty cutting.
After an hour of racing creativity and successes and failures, Kenny and I called time and went around to each group, asking them to demonstrate their coaster. We gave the teams as many tries as needed to get their marble from beginning to end of the tracks. Several of the coasters contained pinball- like qualities that also indirectly referenced the Rube Goldberg process. Other coasters relied on heavily gravity to carry their marble over the cardboard.
After each group showcased their work, we asked them to reflect on the challenges they faced as a group when construction their coasters. Many involved getting the marble to have enough kinetic energy to run through the entire course. Some were more material- related issues, such as the marble getting stuck on tape. All of the teams proudly showcased their creations, and were eager to share their success.
As far as prizes go in the future, Kenny and I have discussed having medals prepared for each team. One team can be named “Most Creative”, another “Fastest Coaster”, another “Best Design”, and so forth. Monetary prizes for a single winning team may not have the same impact as meaningful awards complimenting an element of every teams coasters and ingenuity. If we were to do it again, we would bring images and a poster prepared with the rules for the introduction, and awards for each team. Kenny and I are continuing to learn from our pupils and hone our teaching styles. Overall, the workshop was a success. I think the students enjoyed themselves, and came up with some really fantastic coasters!
The two contact microphones at the bottom of the image above were also custom-built for these students using 1 audio cable (cut in half), 2 piezo transducers, and 2 plastic bottle caps.
Shortly before the workshop began, I put together a simple Flash/Actionscript interface that allows students to choose which sounds (from a small set of options, chosen beforehand by Allison and I) will be triggered when a conductive object connected to certain alligator clip color (e.g. red, green, blue, or white) is connected to the device’s electrical ground. As it stands, there are 625 (i.e. 5^4) possible assignments of sounds to ‘keys’/colors:
The Found Sounds Workshop:
The first day was dedicated to the exploration of sound, vibrations, and the acoustic properties of various materials. After a brief introduction to the concept of recycled instruments (with both live and recorded examples), an explanation of how to build contact mics from cheap/salvaged parts, and an introduction to the physics of sound, students split into two ‘musical groups’, each of which was provided with a large box of found objects (selected beforehand by Allison and I). In addition, each group received one custom-built contact microphone and one amplifier. The students were challenged to create their own unique instruments using the materials at hand, with the goal of combining their sounds the following day to create brief music videos.
At the start of the second day, students were given a brief introduction to electricity and circuits and were then provided with high-resistance-switch instruments. We challenged our students to test the conductivity of various materials, and to create their own switch-based instruments (e.g. using graphite drawings).
Some lessons we’ll carry with us to our upcoming camps and workshops:
– On the first workshop day, our Found Sounds students were highly invested in making sounds and beats with their recycled instruments. However, after we introduced the high-resistance-switch instruments on the second day, most of our students became so fascinated with the new activity that they seemed to lose interest in playing their recycled instruments. Although we had originally hoped to hold a ‘jam session’ toward the end of the second day — where students would create brief music videos using both their switch instruments and their recycled instruments — it was clear by the end of day 2 that most students were only interested in continuing to tinker with the high-resistance-switch devices. We decided to alter our original plan and let them tinker for the remainder of the day. It might have been best to hold a recycled instrument ‘jam session’ at the end of the first day, when our students were still strongly involved in recycled-instrument-related activities.
– A few students wanted to know how we made the Flash/Actionscript interface that they were using with their switch instruments. I told them that it involved programming in a language called Actionscript, and that they could make something similar themselves with MIT’s Scratch language. After uttering these words the first time, I couldn’t help but wonder why I hadn’t programmed the interface (or at least parts of it) in Scratch. Whenever possible, I plan to do so in the future, so that I can respond to similar questions by ‘opening up’ and dissecting the application in question.
– We allowed students to organize themselves into groups during this workshop, and noticed that the students tended to segregate themselves by gender. To avoid this sort of situation, we’ve already begun to assume a more active role in grouping students (e.g. grouping students by shared interests, or by counting off students modulo [the total number of students divided by the desired number of groups] ).
It was our first time teaching for PAA and Maker Corps, and we both felt very natural instructing and assisting the students! We began our two days by splitting the students into two groups and giving both groups a curated box of found objects such as cardboard, fishing line, styrofoam, rubber bands, packing tape, and PVC pipes. The students were challenged to create at least one instrument that created interesting sounds when played with a contact mic, and at least one instrument that created interesting sounds when played through the air.
Kenny: Allison and I have been tinkering and planning our summer workshops all throughout our first week at PAA. On the tinkering side of things: we’ve begun experimenting with various materials and mechanisms — setting ourselves up for repeated failures and occasional successes. This process of exploration, discovery, and troubleshooting is an essential part of our preparation for our kinetic sculptures camps, which will be held next month. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be involved in PAA’s Music Production and Multi-media Arts camps, among other programs. Be sure to check back for updates as we document various stages of our making, learning, and teaching process!
We’ll be updating this post throughout the summer with links, videos, text, and images that inspire us and inspire our programs!
Music Media Arts
- Letting kids reach through the museum glass and bring ancient objects to life (Animation workshop by a fellow Maker Corps Mentor)
- Jan Svankmajer’s Darkness//Light//Darkness
- Woah Woah Ok Go
- Really Awesome Things Happening in Pittsburgh
- Detroit: Hotbed of Creativity
- Charm City Inspirations
- Installation art at Pittsburgh’s Mattress Factory
Fine Art Inspiration