Monthly Archives: June 2015

Camp Base Solon! What a Troop!

This week has been awesome.  Today is the last day for this camp, so we’ll get to see the final presentations of what kind of kinetic sculptures the kids have created in their groups.  We have almost 30 kids in this camp, it is the biggest camp we have had so far – we have a total of 6 groups and 6 kinetic sculptures!  It’s interesting to see what portions of the camp the kids are more intrigued to learn more about in each week’s camp base.  Last week, they were more into wood working, and this week I would say that their sketches were more elaborate and students kept going back to their drawing boards while they were working and building away.

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It’s also great to think about how more and more organized we are getting with each week of camp and how natural things are feeling as time progresses.  Everything has become progressively smoother, which is a very good thing.  Especially with the group this week, we changed some things up with some of our hand-building tutorials and Scratch demos, which saved us a lot of time that the kids used to brainstorm and work on their projects the first couple of days.  I can’t wait to see the final sculptures, it’s going to be so good.  One group brought their own Lego cars that they can attach the Lego WeDo motors to move in order to trigger a motion sensor, and somewhere in between another car is sent off with a fan using a DIY sail made of toilet paper and rods.  Pretty neat!  Stay tuned!

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Third Imagination and Invention Camp

This week Steph, Ainsley and I went out Solon for our camp. Being our third camp now Steph and I have started taking lead on some of the lessons for the camp which was exciting. The kids this week have shown a huge passion for making and programming. So many cool things were brought in from home and the groups have worked incredibly hard thus far. A lot of the kids at this camp are outspoken and thus the tensions have gotten a little high but it has remained constructive rather than destructive thankfully. One noticeable difference with this week has been the emphasis on practicality. Although a lot of the plans were incredibly complex shortly after their inception, the kids have found a lot of ways to keep what they really like while making finishing the project and more plausible goal.

An additional pleasant surprise focusing on practicality has been the kids’ diligent testing of their projects. Rather than assembling everything and then trying to get all the components to work in harmony, a lot of the groups test everything before adding an additional machine or computer. This resonated with me because the shift in focus seemed to be towards success and stability. The Solon camp has seemed much more goal oriented which was really interesting to me. I hope that their drive keeps allowing them to make confident and unique choices in how to add and improve their projects without any strain on their operational integrity. It has been awesome to work this group and to be reminded of how different people’s mindsets can be while still enjoying what they’re doing. Today is their final run so fingers’ crossed for the Solon Imagination and Invention Camp!

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Build! Build! Build!

Lots of innovating, arguing, contemplating, and laughter!  Second week as a Maker Corps at the Cuyahoga County Public Library Southeast Branch was very different, wild, experimental, and fun all at the same time.  We have an older age group which changes a lot of things in comparison to the first week of youthful tinkerers.  This week majority of the kids are interestingly more into the woodworking aspect of the building, they are avid listeners and fast builders!

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We had thought our week was running slightly behind due to little glitches in the Scratch program and introductions, but once it came to finally building the sculptures, it was like an immediate mind-to-sketch-to-physical sculpture process.  This week, we tried something new by having fewer groups and more kids in each group.  That way there were more hands and brains working together and it worked out extremely well since this week the kids are a little less experienced overall in the Scratch program and woodworking, but they definitely were not shy to learn about it all!

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Second Camp at Bedford Library

Steph and I are working with Lauren at our second Imagination and Invention Camp at Bedford Library this week. The kids have shown an incredible amount of drive in this camp and even though they had less time to build they have accomplished a great deal. The projects are really quite different in comparison to last camp which is really exciting. We have everything from foam rockets to basketballs all the way to horns and soup cans. The kids this week have shown a really strong propensity for wood working and physical building this week. As a result the project have really filled up their boards and look really creative.

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One big difference in this camp is the kids. They’re noticeably older which worried me at first. I thought that they might be resistant to learning the processes like Scratch and woodworking but I was really pleasantly surprised. As soon as it was time for them to start planning out their projects they were working quickly and with some nice organization. The groups split up what they needed to do and within a day most of the building was done and some kids were actually starting to line things up for testing. It’s seemed like an entirely different camp than last week but I love being a part of it just as much. The kids have really taken control of their ability to make their own plans and choices and to execute them efficiently. Their difference in confidence and simply how much their enjoying it has grown a great deal within a week and it’s really rewarding!

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Camp Base South Euclid Library!

This was our first camp of the summer, and I would say that it went pretty great!  We had them split up into their own groups of choice after friendly introductions.  The kids immediately started building like busy machines after lots and lots of demos on the Scratch program, all the basic how to’s and not to’s on power tools, sketching, and of course discussions of the sketching.  One of my concerns was thinking about how all the materials and little random things we packed will go unnoticed, but sure enough they grabbed everything they could to make their kinetic sculptures become a success.  I am so amazed at so many little innovative little components that they come up with, and how they learn to problem solve when conflict comes to face them.  In the beginning they were definitely a little shy of the power tools, but it wasn’t long until they gained those skills as if they were second nature!  It’s also interesting to see how each one of them has their own perspective on how things can be done, and the competitive nature that starts to unfold during the camp.  It’s so important to catch up with each group to see where they are at with their progress and disperse equal support, and also to encourage giving a hand to other groups!  This is the last day of our first camp, and today we’ll finally see if their sculptures will work or not, and I am pretty stoked!  Stay in tune for more updates!

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Imagination and Invention at South Euclid Library

Today is the last day of our first camp as Maker Corps members at Progressive Arts Alliance! The camp, Imagination and Invention: Creating Chain Reaction Sculptures, was held at the South Euclid Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library. It’s unfortunate that it had to end so soon, but it was an awesome experience. The kids were really interested in all the aspects of the camp including using Scratch, exploring different types of motion, construction, and having open choices. Some of the kids had never used the Scratch program before, while others were way more knowledgeable of it than myself. This was really nice because they were able to help each other out in a positive but still really creative way. Those who didn’t warm up too much to Scratch still seemed really enticed by the idea of building kinetic sculptures. All the projects have a humor about them that is better and more ridiculous than most professional art. There’s everything from a dragon blowing away Spider Man, to grenades blowing up garbage cans, to this guy (pictured below) that has a motion sensor in his mouth so that when a ball rolls into the mouth, the computer plays a goofy munching sound.

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By far my favorite part about the camp and working with the kids has been how humor has been incorporated into practically every process they undertake. There is no need to take the project as something that should be serious, which allows for them to have fun while making their own choices about what they learn, develop, construct, and refine. I hope that as we progress, move on to different camp locations, and fine tune our process, the results can be as cool and fun as they have been at this camp. Click below to see footage from this week’s camp experience:

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Working in Scratch and Materials Hunting

As Stephanie mentioned in her post, we have done a lot of active preparing this week to start the Imagination and Invention camp. One of the major components of this preparation was learning Scratch which is a free program that serves as a beginners guide to coding. The software was easy to learn and was filled with a ton of potential uses. As soon as I thought I had learned the basics of the program, there turned out to be so many more possibilities I hadn’t even considered. I am really excited to see what the kids are able to do with Scratch in regards to making kinetic sculpture especially considering how creative and energetic they are! I’m sure there will be tons of uses that will still surprise me.

Another major part of our first week at Progressive Arts Alliance Maker Corps. was gathering open ended materials. This was similarly exciting in that I had never gone around and looked at toys and trinkets and general goods while thinking: “how could this be used to generate motion and energy?” It was a new perspective that made a lot of the materials I would normally dismiss, quite interesting. On the first day of building the kids used several materials in really interesting and unconventional ways in order to make Teeter-Totters so I’m sure that when they have access to the full range of materials for their major project, it will turn out to be awesome! Stephanie and I will make sure to keep everyone posted!

 

 

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First Week of Maker Corps 2015

Our first week of Maker Corps at PAA has gone pretty smoothly and lots of work has been done in preparation for the crazy fun and adventure-filled summer ahead of us.  We can’t wait to start brainstorming and making cool things with everyone as we finalize some of the last bits of organizing in the office.  A couple of exciting things happening throughout our first week included visiting the think[box] Institute for Collaboration and Innovation located at Case Western University, where we got trained and authorized to use the saws, which will be one of the most helpful resources for us!

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We also did a lot of running around and looking for interesting materials (which has also contributed to our brainstorming) and thinking about how the materials could potentially be incorporated into the kinetic sculptures our students will make in the coming weeks.  Visiting HGR Industrial Surplus located in East Cleveland was probably the most memorable of our trips.  We’ve also been learning about the Lego WeDo and Scratch and will be incorporating these tools as a big component in our making this summer.  The little motion and tilt sensors will be very exciting and helpful to work with as we facilitating making experiences.  We can’t wait for the next week to begin!

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