Friday, 8 September 2017

On Being a Maker

I've been thinking a lot about the process that I use to make a project. There is a pathway of sorts that helps me to go from 'Something Imagined' to 'Something Real'.  A big part of my making is in the planning. I don't just randomly make. That is not the way it happens. I can't work from zero.

I get inspired ... 

I might see something online. Or I see it in passing or hear about something in conversation. That's all it takes. Just enough of a hint to light a spark.
The singularly most powerful inspiration for me is when I can see it directly and I can touch it. Something that engages more than one sense. I guess you could think of this as the front loading stage in an inquiry cycle. I need this stage or the spark for inspiration will not happen! After inspiration comes imagination.

I can spend a lot of time in this stage. Being inspired leads to dreaming about what I can make. Sometimes I will actually dream about it - or just daydream about it. Many, many times this will not lead to making anything but when I imagine something and think about it numerous times - that usually means that I need to take action. I never really copy - I hate to copy! I strive to make it my own. To make something copied could never be considered as a proper project. Only as a point of learning to learn a new skill.  The next stage is the planning stage. This can be done on my iPhone, via an online search, by taking photos and mixing them or by making a sketch. I need to see the project to get a clear idea of what it looks like. Whilst this is happening I usually research what it will be made of and how to acquire the tools and materials. Finally I find out what techniques are required. You Tube and Craftsy are my go-to options.Next comes the making stage. If the technique is a new one, I'll make a sampler. This helps me to know if I am smart enough to make the bigger project. At this stage my project might just lose steam if I am not able to actually make it. I am very ambitious and sometimes aim too high. Now I can begin the project. This is the best part. I can get totally lost in this part. Hours can pass and I don't even realise. 
After making part of the project or all of the project the desire to improve it kicks in. This can make or break a project. Sometimes you can go too far in the pursuit to improve something and just end up ruining it. Yes that happens and yes those projects get tucked away never to see daylight again. I should embrace my failures or my projects that become 'over cooked'. 

Well that's something for me to work on ...

Of course I try to share about what I do. I mostly do that via my Instagram. This year I may even blog about it. I need to be quick though because I make stuff really fast. 

Here is my cycle of making

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Starting Up a Makerspace - My Journey

This year I have the awesome opportunity to work in the JIS Elementary Makerspace. The room that will serve as the space is a corner office with lots of windows and light. Here is the room so far ...

There's not much in here yet but there are some robotics kits, Rigamijig, bike construction kits and other odds and ends. It's a start. So I find myself wondering ...What is a Makerspace? How can this space become accessible for all students at PIE? What can be done to get students really interested in making and collaborating in this space? What kinds of provocations can I create to help motivate students?

We have decided to call the space 'Bengkel'. Bengkel is the Indonesian word for workshop. 

Something that I know well is, "People only know what they know and they don't know what they don't know." This is something that I have always told learners who are new to using technology - but actually it applies to all learning. So, how can you know what you don't already know?

How can I trigger a greater curiosity for making?

I am lucky to have a background in making. Back in the 80s I studied a Diploma of Art at the University of Southern Queensland before going on to train as a art teacher. I majored in Textiles and Painting. I have always been creative and have self-taught myself to make. My work in university really challenged me to understand the difference between art and craft. It was hard at times as I was trained to create art first but I was so influenced by Indonesian crafts as I had partly grown up in Indonesia. I really admire the craftspeople of Indonesia and had considered that to be a form of art. My lecturers told me that art is an expression and has message whereas craft is a skilled form and can be quantified. Craft can also be duplicated. 

I know that the very concept of the maker movement is still being defined. If we start with what is a maker, we will find that it is a person who can create, produce, build, invent or manufacture something.

My understanding is that things made in a Makerspace are utilitarian. The things there are designed to be more practical rather than just attractive. Indeed startup companies like Quirky and Kickstarter are equipping makers with access to resources that can help turn an idea into a real life product. I strongly believe that making leads to new understandings and making new connections. An example of this is traditional weavers from Bolivia are being employed to make heart implants that cannot be produced by a machine.

How amazing that these traditional craftspeople are now weaving implants to save lives. It's their skill that cannot be reproduced by a machine. How creative was the Bolivian cardiologist Franz Freudenthal to make such a connection between craft and science.

So where do I begin? How can I turn this office space into a creation station? Over the past two years, my school has been developing an iTime program for all students in Elementary. A typical iTime cycle will run for about 6 weeks and happen about one session a week. Students create a pitch to their teacher which will include their plan for what they want to investigate, their needs (both materials and access to expertise) and how this will help them to become better learners. This Makerspace will support student iTime project work.

And so we begin. I hope to post frequently about how this space and this program develops. My first task is to buy some consumables. I already have students knocking on the door asking for DC motors, felt, wiring, sewing supplies etc. 

I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Scratch Jr - Coding with Junior Elementary Classes

I have been working with children in the younger grades on game creation. Scratch Jr is a fantastic app which is simple, yet it can produce a game with an ending screen.

Today I explored the app a little further to see if I could create a fan version of the popular Geometry Dash. Here is my game.

I thought that I'd share it here for those looking to make a game that is not only popular but quite fun for younger students both the make and to play. You can even airdrop a finished game to another iPad to share with peers.