The goal of this project is to develop a new “soft” input/output interface that promotes scaffolded learning of computational processes and circuitry. Specific objectives include (1) creating a learning space that promotes experimentation, reflection, and self-expression and (2) investigating how the use of new and/or repurposed materials can engage new audiences in computation through craft.
The goal of this project is to develop
a new “soft” a paper-based input/output interface that promotes scaffolded learning of computational processes and circuitry. Specific objectives include (1) creating a learning space that promotes experimentation, reflection, and self-expression and (2) investigating how the use of new and/or repurposed materials can engage new audiences in computation through craft.
The goal of this project is to develop
a new “soft” a paper-based input/output interface modular toolkit that promotes scaffolded learning of computational processes and circuitry. Specific objectives include (1) creating a learning space that promotes experimentation, reflection, and self-expression and (2) investigating how the use of new and/or repurposed materials can engage new audiences in computation through craft.
Construction kits are great. Construction kits that have a life span of two or more uses are even better. LEGO is by far and away the most pervasive (of current generations at least), and it is so successful because it allows innumerable recombinations. Lately I have been trying to decide the form of my project as it aligns with my conceptual goals. From here, I would like to classify the possible recombinations of such construction kits into two manifestations: the mini-world and the reconstruction of a object, device, or setting at a real world scale.
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Some Reflections on Designing Construction Kits for Kids 
Mitch Resnick + Brian Silverman
1. Design for Designers
2. Low Floor and Wide Walls
3. Make Powerful Ideas Salient – Not Forced
4. Support Many Paths, Many Styles
5. Make it as Simple as Possible – and Maybe Even Simpler
6. Choose Black Boxes Carefully
7. A Little Bit of Programming Goes a Long Way
8. Give People What They Want – Not What They Ask For
9. Invent Things That You Would Want to Use Yourself
10. Iterate, Iterate – then Iterate Again
1. Mitchel Resnick and Brian Silverman, “Some reflections on designing construction kits for kids” (ACM Press, 2005), 117-122, http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1109556.
I found this diagram of Bloom’s Taxonomy a few years back and still think it is the best hierarchy and explanation I have seen:
For those of you who aren’t familiar, a group of educators created Bloom’s Taxonomy in the 1950′s to classify and standardize scaffolding learning objectives:
It refers to a classification of the different objectives that educators set for students (learning objectives). Bloom’s Taxonomy divides educational objectives into three “domains”: Cognitive, Affective, and Psychomotor (sometimes loosely described as knowing/head, feeling/heart and doing/hands respectively). Within the domains, learning at the higher levels is dependent on having attained prerequisite knowledge and skills at lower levels. A goal of Bloom’s Taxonomy is to motivate educators to focus on all three domains, creating a more holistic form of education.
It is still very much in use and considered a backbone of sorts to curriculum development and assessment. Bloom’s will be an essential reference for contextualizing my thesis in formal and informal learning environments (though I think I am sticking with the latter) and for evaluating the growth of participant-learners.
This is a prototype mockup for an interface that uses nails (or any other conductive protrusion) and conductive thread as input and thermochromic cells as output. Each “cell” will have three different types of thermochromic ink, i.e. each has a different temperature threshold, thus different parts of the cell will change at different speeds depending on how long the thread is wound around the nail to complete the circuit. Each nail is mapped to a cell, and the cells will be interchangeable on the display surface. An element of play and emergence enters since the user has no reference for which part of the cell holds which threshold of ink (ideally).
This is a part of a larger exploration into combining everyday objects and smart materials to create new types of interfaces.
v1. Develop and construct a modular paper-based toolkit to teach basic electrical concepts and interface design.
v2. Develop and construct a modular toolkit using paper, everyday objects, and conductive materials to teach basic electrical concepts and interface design.
Recently I have been feeling a great deal of dissonance between my direction and its lack of personal foundation. In other words, more often than not, my projects need a function to stand on. Initially I was trepidatious to integrate education and learning as a fundamental component of my thesis, but the past month has led me to see the importance of sticking with something you know well and something that you are passionate about.
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Cecilia Elguero is an artist who focuses on the intersection of fine art, computation, and materials. She has a background in film, electronic music, and graphic design, but has most recently been working with paper and porcelain. Graduating from MFADT in 2010, Cecilia has been key in expanding the Parsons e-textile movement outside of its fashionable tech focus. In spring 2011, Cecilia co-taught Soft Circuits and is currently teaching Soft Circuits 2. The difference between the classes is the substrate focus, which in turn changes the whole methodology and approach to constructing: the spring focused on sewing circuits with fabric and thread, while the fall is focusing on silkscreening circuits with paper and conductive ink.
My objective in this initial interview with Cecilia was to question her about her own thesis process and to hear her thoughts on the state of the soft circuit field today. Since I will be meeting with Cecilia a few more times over the course of thesis, I wanted to focus more on her and her perspective as an expert, rather than immediately ask her for feedback on my initial concepts.
For this first round of interviews, I decided to speak with Katherine Moriwaki, an assistant professor in AMT and Sam, a first year MFA Design and Technology. Both participated in the Scrapyard Challenge workshop held on Sunday, Septemeber 25, 2011. I participated as a second year helper.
Scrapyard Challenge is a workshop Katherine and her husband Jonah created to assemble gathers participants of diverse ages, backgrounds, and levels of expertise to “build simple electronic projects (both digital and analog inputs) out of found or discarded “junk” (old electronics, clothing, furniture, outdated computer equipment, appliances, turntables, monitors, gadgets, etc..).”  This is largely pertinent to my thesis because of its focus on emergent learning through creative making.