So this week I was getting into the action myself, participating in various events involving DIY. It was a good opportunity to take a step into the world of making and just play. In the end we are part of the user group that makes up the maker community.
Last weekend I went to Nuit Blanche, a public art exhibit with performance pieces, standalone or interactive. The event spreads around downtown Ottawa; I attended the action located in the Byward Market. Artists are DIY people. They think, they make, they create a piece with a message or puropse. While attending the event there were a couple exhibits that really stood out for me. The first was an interactive exhibit that featured a car that was to be redesigned by the people. A big slab of clay was at the front and people could grab a handful, model something and attach it to the car. The results by the time I got there were very impressive.
What really spoke to me was the fact that so many people with different styles, bcakground and differences were all able to do the task. The accessibility of the material allowed everyone to add something while having FUN.
The picture above shows an artist using spraypaint to create this image of hands on a large canvas. A group drew in around him and watched in awe. The journey of getting to the final was enjoyed by everyone, opposed to leaving until its done. The experience of creating is something magical and to be shared.
On Friday Nathaniel, Kristine and myself engaged in the LEGO Mindstorms workshop. It was a nice little lecture that helped us understand the behind the scenes theory of the equipment, though that knowledge was not required to run the devices. We were given specific robot tasks but our group and others started running away with our own ideas. This stood out because nobody wanted to follow a specified task when you are given the ability to make anything.
Our group made a giraffe-like robot with long legs and neck, with earrings to top it off. The robot was not the most attractive, nor structurally sound but it didnt matter. All of us completely let go and just had FUN. You felt like a kid again creating something that may not be at all thought out first, but over time it evolves and takes shape into something. Personally I find this mentality to be very important as a designer but unfortunetely doesnt always happen. It is like you aren't building to have fun and fiddle around and the finished object comes as a bi-product.
It was interesting to see though that most of our robots ended up with LEGO weapons and were sent to battle eachother. The INTERACTION was still there beyond each individual group.
While researching online I decided to look at some anonymous forums under the category of DIY. One thread that I came across was people posting pictures of their workspace. Here are a couple of the pictures:
A couple things that I took away from the pictures. First everybodys got there battlestation set up with stuff everywhere, usually molded together with mismatched storage. The environment that the user is working in can be crucial to their development. Professions all have there work environmet, but the DIY is a non-professional that may not have a workshop. Maybe there is more room to look at the ENVIRONMENT of the maker, not just the tools and methods of prototyping.
Second thing I took away, more so in the second image is all of the electronics. Many different devices for different things. Most of these devices people on average do not own / know about. Two pieces of technology most people own now is a smartphone and laptop. Both of these very powerful and flexible devices. Can we create tools that utilize these two devices in making prototyping easier?
An interesting video I came across was about a piece of software being worked on that can reconstruct a physical object realtime into 3d geometry. It even includes the automatic texturing of the piece. It is very accessible as it only uses a standard webcam, which leads to the questions of how it could be utilized for prototyping and learning.
Education was another topic our group discussed, so I briefly looked into some articles surrounding that . An interesting quote i came across pertaining to arts and music programs read:
These activities can be – and often are – integrated into the curriculum, but when arts are treated simply as enrichment, they are particularly vulnerable to cuts in funding from the province or the school board,
INTEGRATION is the key. Molding the DIY ideologies to areas such as science and math can be very beneficial to the students. Allowing for creativity and better understanding of material.
An aricle from The Globe and Mail [LINK] states that math scores are in a decline accross Canada. Many students go into highschool and university missing fundementals that form the foundation for later work. One major reason this is the case is because of the methods that math is being taught. Calculators have become the easy answer for many things but the theory is not there.
After all, what do the professors know? They’re just math geeks. They have no idea how to teach children. As a consequence, there is now an almost total disconnect between the math that’s taught in most schools and the math that students need in university or the real world in order to succeed. It’s notable that educators in Eastern Europe and Asia, in particular, are astounded by what they’ve seen happening in North America.
Maybe the method of teaching can be improved with the use of DIY and prototyping ideologies? I found personally working with the LEGO Mindstorm that the hands on approach and work it out yourself mentality helped me to grasp in underlying theory.
- Education Integration
- Narrow down
- Primary research - surveys, questions, observing