Saturday, April 16, 2011

DIY with your kids

I must start off by saying that this was the most enjoyable 'assignment' I have done since I started grad school! For my DIY project I wanted to try and do some DIY projects with my 5 year old daughter. I spend quite a bit of time looking at different projects and kept finding more and more projects that I wanted to do... and more and more websites that I wanted to visit. The best websites that I found (some from the previous lecture notes) were , , , , and other fun sites that had kid projects. Of all of the cool ideas, that ones that we actually made were:

Groovy Lava Lamp

This project is all about oil and water not mixing. Basically you take a bottle and fill it about 2/3rd of the way with water then fill the rest with water that has some food coloring in it. Then to actually make the lava effect, you put little pieces of alka-seltzer in the water and it bubbles and makes the water rise through the oil. It didn't work very well, but it was fun to do. The bubble didn't last very long and the alka-seltzer kept floating to the top.

Marshmallow Catapult

Making the marshmallow catapult was also pretty fun, but with mixed results. One of the problems with this one is that the instructions were really vague and didn't give enough detailed information so we had to guess a little bit. It was pretty fun to make and I think that if we made a Marshmallow catapult 2.0 it would be much more successful.

CD Hovercraft

The CD hovercraft was also somewhat less than successful. It kind of worked, but the wooden spools that I bought were too small and the balloons kept coming off. I got some bigger spools to try again, but the first version was not very good. Hopefully the next round will be more successful.

Duct Tape Fun -

Our most successful craft came from making stuff out of Duct Tape. I must admit, that I was quite impressed that my daughter did most of this on her own. She wanted to make a bag, and so I said go for it. I helped her start the sides of the bag after she made the bottom, but she did most of the bag by herself (including straps and a pocket). She spent almost the whole weekend playing and making stuff out of two roles of duct tape. I couldn't help but feel so proud of her for being so creative.

Finally we did the nice Mentos and coke experiment, just for fun.

It was really fun to spend some time with my kid, and she loved having some attention from her dad that tries to play with her, but doesn't always do a good job of it. It was neat to teach her some actual scientific information about how some of these things work, and I hope that more of this DIY movement continues to spread.


This is a group shot of our upcycled jars and plastic bags! I would have never thought of this idea without having seen it on blogs or on Etsy. It is helpful to have visual aids to help imagine new possibilities. New media certainly affords numerous avenues I cannot fathom the possibilities for the future!
Above is a finished wallet I created weeks ago. I planned on doing something else - such as a shopping bag, but my sewing machine needle isn't working correctly and I don't know enough about sewing to figure out how to fix it. I wanted to show what I have created through this process. It's not the "best" product, but it's functional!

In order to complete this project, I followed the instructions that I posted earlier - to fuse the plastic. Then I cut and sewed the fused plastic together to make a pocket, then folded the top down. I used a zig zag and a straight stitch for decor.
Here is a closer look at the "slipcovers" I made out of "orphaned socks" - before I found this innovative way to decorate the jars, they looked horrible - with peeling labels and glue collecting dust. After cutting off the toes of the socks, I slipped the socks over the jar - and presto! Tinkerbell is now decorating the jar holding the paintbrushes! The girls love how the craft jars are decorated with their favorite princesses - and I think it looks cute, too! Now, I just need to find some kind of fabric that "feels" more like summer - this reminds me too much of winter!!

Maria's DIY project - A Video clip with iMovie

Figure 1: Creating the project
I spent this week debating on my studio project until yesterday. I knew I wanted to create a movie using iMovie... but what should my theme be? I wanted it to be something meaningful to me, something that I can share and express myself. Last night I remembered that... mother's day is approaching... what a great opportunity, right? My mom has been asking me to create a collection of pictures and dent them to the family. So here I am, blogging about my experimentation with iMovie, creating a movie with pictures of the family. After watching a short tutorial (that always comes up when I open iMovie), I created my project (See figure 1).

Figure 2: The buttons to select and import music 
and images, text and transitions in iMovie.

I went through a million pictures, until I choose the ones I wanted to include in my movie! And then... it was time to choose a song. my mom like Frank Sinatra, so I picked a jazz piece that seemed to be happy and matching the whole theme (see Figure 2). I then put the pictures in order in the working space and started experimenting with the transitions, the time, and the feeling of each picture (see Figure 3). I have to say that this whole process brought wonderful memories in my mind :)

Figure 3: The working space in iMovie, the 
import section and the main screen.
One important implication of new media in the 21st century is that new media allows so much space for creativity and self expression. Learning moves beyond of the conventional boundaries of school and new doors are opened that lead to open learning practices, on the way, and by the way learning. It was a learning process for me, as I mastered a new tool for making movies. Learning does not have to be aligned with the curriculum and the standards. Learning that is useful in real life is what we should address to be most valuable. Learning is lifelong and powerful means of participation.

Video: The final product of my studio work: a video clip that I will send to my mom on mother's day :)

As I am learning this new technology, I am, at the same time learning things about myself. How confident and competent I am with new media and technology, but also how much I miss my family: my parents and my two little brothers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tonight, I worked on my DIY project(s) - I have taken odd socks and cut the toes off and slipped them onto glass jars to decorate the storage the girls use for their art supplies. I have been collecting the glass jars for some time, now. I kept some of them sock-less in order to see the objects. However, I have created slipcovers out of socks for the other jars in order to hide the glue/labels.

I found this idea on the internet when researching upcycling ideas - Upcycling is recycling/reusing items - but to an extreme! When one upcycles, they are taking their reused items and "spruce'n'" them up to be a bit more than a reused item - it is conceptually a different item. For example, what use to be a plastic bag is now a piece of fabric which has been sewn into a wallet. Another example are the socks - which are no longer socks - they are slipcovers!

Below is a website that shows how to fuse plastic - in order to make wallets, bags, bibs, and much more. Below the website link is a photo of the "orphan socks" project that inspired my slipcovers for my art jars! More to come about my specific projects this weekend!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Career path of the future

I have been a little slow in watching the lecture material from last week, but I just say WOW to the ideas there. Some of the ideas are just so incredible and have such potential for change in the future, it is kind of hard to wrap my head around. I love the whole idea of the DIY and will post more about my projects with my daughter later this week, but we have been having fun and I will just say that my daughter has made some pretty awesome stuff out of duct tape!

One of the comments (by Allison) about the Tinkering school really got my attention. Her comment simply was asking if people would chose different career paths if they were exposed to this kind of school as a child. For some reason the phrase 'career path' seemed to jump out at me and say (in the voice of my daughter), "what do you mean path? I don't want to have a single path that I follow through life." This really got me wondering about what future 'careers' will even be for many people. I have heard talk that we are already entering a 'gig' economy where many people will just go from gig to gig (like a musician) rather than be tied to a single job. This may be someone scary to some people, but I think it can also be so liberating too. To think that the idea of a single path that you have to find and get on to be successful seems so overwhelming. I like the thought of being able to work and create new opportunities in the future.

Perhaps I am just rambling a bit, but I think that the jobs of the future are also going to be very different.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

DIY - From Atoms to Bits and Back Again

This week's readings helped me to understand DIY as a sub-culture of New Media culture that is emerging or has emerged right under our noses! Without even realizing it, we have been participating in activities and learning environments that are actually more complex than simple hobbies - The articles gave me a sense of understanding Crawford's Useful Arts as possible careers, while Gershenfeld's Fab Labs are places where anything you can dream can be created! All in all, I never associated that DIY could be extended to the workplace (for example, sheet metal creations) - I think of Martha Stewart when I think of DIY - but now I think of MIT Fab Labs!

Beuchley's LilyPad Arduino brings BIG ideas to the home front in regards to learning how to program toys, clothing, bags, and just about anything that can be attached to it. By making this so accessible to the general public, it opens the doors further to the creative markets and education opportunities. Afterall, if children become engaged in programming their own toys - they will learn all about circuits before they realize it!

Beuchley's article about the computational sketchbook also amazes the reader with all the possibilities one can do with such technology. I did have trouble imaging what this paper and paint can do - even with the photographs, I want to see it, touch it, and work with it so I can understand it better. How can teachers integrate this into the learning environment? What an idea to have the students and teachers learning how to use this together! Wouldn't it be wonderful to just drop this kit off in a classroom and tell them "I'll be back in 90 days to see what you all created!" Of course, I would want to have them creating tutorials as they were making their creations, just as the peers do in the Fab Labs!

I see this heading in the direction of classrooms evolving into Fab Labs - where students will be inventing and creating - sharing and publishing their work. This interactive learning that is happening in the FabLabs and with the LilyPad is the type of learning that children of the Tech Age need to have access to - in order to stretch and challenge their knowledge they already have developed over time using computers and playing with technology.

Finally, I hope to see more schools like Tinkering Schools and Brightwork Schools open around the United States. Places that embrace construction and flexibility will allow for more technical learning to occur. Afterall, having collaborators as your guide is more appealing to a learning environment that embraces constructionism.