Monthly Archives: June 2016

University Settlement Green Screen Project

For this week’s design challenge, at the University Settlement, we experimented with altering reality through photography. The challenge: create a three image narrative using a prop from the prop box as the inspiration. We showed the students examples of storyboards and comics to demonstrate how to create movement and narrative in a single image.


Once the students had selected their prop/costume they started to create their stories by drawing colorful backgrounds using texture rubbings and crayons. The students then took pictures of their finished backgrounds with iPads. After saving the three drawn images, they were able to get in front of the green screen to act out their stories. Using an app called Color Screen, we were able to select everything in the digital image that was green. The app then deletes the pixels that are green and inserts the drawn image in their place. With this technology, the students were able to act out their narratives with the backdrop of their crayon drawings.


Some of the stories that were thought up included a super hero who saved a town from a fire, a disco dance party, a wizard Olympics, and two hip hop concerts. The campers had a blast imagining their characters, stories, and backgrounds



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Meeting with Jimmy Kuehnle about Inflatables

This week Frances, Leah, and I met with local Cleveland artist Jimmy Kuehnle to learn more about making inflatables. Kuehnle is well known in the artist community for his large scale, colorful and humorous inflatable sculptures. We sat down with him at the Cleveland Institute of Art, my alma mater, to learn more about constructing inflatable structures. At our previous camps we have been using scotch tape and packing tape to hold the edges of our inflatables and we have been attaching them to the fans using a paper tube. Kuehnle talked to us about the importance of having a strong air current, which requires the use of the whole fan, in order to have the object inflate fully. Our paper tube did not cover the whole fan and was just not enough air for our students’ projects. This revelation also meant that we needed to make the inflatables much larger than previous camps had made. A larger scale for the student projects will be both easier to inflate and easier to manipulate. Moreover, larger basic shapes are a great base to build off of and create more complicated soft sculptures. Kuehnle showed us how to add smaller appendages to a large inflatable by taping it on the outside and making a hole from the inside of the base so that air will flow into the appendage.


Kuehnle also suggested using an iron to meld the plastic together for a stronger more reliable seam. He demonstrated this for us and it did work on our plastic material. Our only concern about the iron was that our age group was not old enough to handle a hot iron.

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During this meeting we also talked about limiting the types of objects the students should start with to basic 3D forms. We decided on a cube, a sphere (beach ball net), cone, cylinder, and pyramid. These shapes are the same basic forms used in the 3D modeling program, Tinkercad, we use later in the week ( It is important to stress that these basic forms are combined to make many of the everyday objects we interact with.

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With these newly learned techniques in hand, we changed our lesson plan and tried it with the North Olmsted camp this week. We brought one iron and made Leah in charge of ironing students’ projects. Since there was a wait for the iron, most groups chose to tape their projects, which also worked well. The large basic shapes proved successful for the group and many exciting sculptures were created! One group made a duck using cylinders for the body, another group made a clock tower out of a rectangular prism, and another group made a cupcake out of stacking different sizes of cylinders. Jimmy Kuehnle helped us out greatly and we are excited to use our new knowledge of inflatables for future camps!


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Preparing Materials for the 2D/3D camp at Think[box]

For our 2D/3D camp we have been giving the campers platonic solids to build shapes out of to assist with the understanding of taking something 2D and transforming it to 3D. Diana and I use the laser cutters at the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box] to cut out paper triangles for the lesson.

In its new location, Case Western Reserve University’s think[box] is located in a 7-story building on campus. Three floors are currently being used, and more of the floors will be undergoing renovation soon so that they can be open to the public. It is one of the largest innovations centers in the world that is run through a university and averages 5000 visits every month.

There is a lot of equipment at think[box], including but not limited to, 3D printers, Makerbot 3D printers, soldering stations, vinyl cutter, sewing/embroidery machine, a full metal shop and wood shop, and 4 laser cutters which we have been using to cut the platonic solids out. The laser cutters can run at up to 120 Watts, can etch and cut wood, certain plastic, paper, matt board, leather and even more. When something is etched on the laser cutter it will burn semi-lightly through the surface and when something is cut it is burned all the way through the material to make the cut.




This process can take a long time if you are working large scale or are etching something complex but it is worth it for its phenomenal accuracy and precision. The machine makes our job of cutting the platonic solids go much faster and more accurately than if we cut out 7,000 of them by hand. Think[box] is a wonderful place and is open to the public all year round, check out their website below!

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Roller Coaster Marble Run

This week we went to University Settlement for their first one hour design challenge. The students at this day camp are middle school aged and are going to be participating in various one hour design challenges provided by us throughout the summer.

On June 14 we presented the first challenge which was to experiment with force and motion to build structures. We decided to do a marble run using cardboard boxes, paper towel rolls, and tape. We divided up into three teams. The challenge was to both create the longest track for the marble and make the marble run up and down.


The first team stacked boxes on a table and had the cardboard tube run down to a chair. The marble then had to incline onto a different table that led into a maze and then eventually fall down into another tube.

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The second team stacked three boxes on the floor and created a tube ramp straight down to create enough potential energy for the marble to fly up a second vertical ramp.



The third team stacked boxes all the way to the ceiling and created a long ramp down. Similar to team 2, team 3 built an incline at the end of this ramp so that the marble rolled up again and then down to the floor.


The kids learned that gravity is a force that pulls all objects towards the center of the Earth. They also learned about potential and kinetic energy. A marble will have more potential energy the higher the initial ramp is. All the teams ran into obstacles trying to have the marble run up a second incline. We had to problem solve different ways to provide more potential energy for the marble to have enough to get over a second hump. In the end all teams were successful and created fun and functional marble roller coasters!


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South Euclid 3D Printing!

We wrapped up the week at the 2D/3D camp by introducing Tinkercad to the campers, working with glue guns to mimic 3D printers, and bringing in a Makerbot 3D printer to the library to show the campers what their Tinkercad creations would be printed on.

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Tinkercad went over really well, even though some frustration had occurred at first. The campers had a lot of fun experimenting with and learning the program. Everyone was able to create something they were excited about and proud of by the end of the last day. Some of the objects they created included, the great pyramids of Egypt, a gorilla, ice cream (in cups and in cones), a claw machine, and a camera!

The glue gun activity was to show the campers a process similar to how a 3D printer works, glue (filament) is melted and then extruded on to the plastic sheet (the build plate) and the a fan cools down the hot glue (filament) layer so a new layer can be applied on top. This really helped the campers grasp how a 3D printer works and they had a blast creating multicolored creations with the hot glue.

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Lastly, the Makerbot was a big hit, the campers were ecstatic to watch the 3D printer work. We printed a part Diana had created in Tinkercad, and seeing the machine in person sparked a lot of questions and interests. They wanted to know about the way it worked, how it melted the filament, and the possibilities the 3D printer gave them. Some of the kids even shared stories they had heard  about 3D printers as well as some personal experiences.

The first week was a success and gave us a lot of feedback to help make the rest of the camps an even better experience for future campers.


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South Euclid 2D to 3D Camp June 6-10, 2016

Two activities that we focused on were building platonic solids and creating inflatables. The children were provided stacks of paper triangles that Leah and I had laser cut earlier in the week. The first shape they built was a tetrahedron and from there the children were encouraged to create larger more complex shapes. The individual 2D triangles transformed into 3D structures that ranged from geometric to more organic shapes.


If the kids wanted to experiment with more complex platonic nets we provided some net printouts of shapes like an octahedron and an icosahedron.

Using tape, staples and paper allowed the children to quickly move through their designs and easily revise.


 The platonic solids was a great introductory activity to show the transition of a flat shape to a 3D structure.



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