A Tinkering Studio friend Euphrates shared a new film with us that they created most recently. They have been producing a series of short films in collaboration with NIMS (National Institution of Material Sciences in Japan) to introduce various new materials in a very interesting way, and this is the newest one. I'm especially excited to share this film because they got inspiration for creating this one from visiting the Exploratorium!
When they visited the Exploratorium a while ago, one of the exhibits they were excited about was "Disappearing Glass Rods." It is an exhibit that shows you glass rods disappear in the mixture of mineral oils because the mixture has the same index of refraction with the glass. Then we asked Tom Tompkins in the exhibit shop and got a recipe of the mixture and a few tips of how to get the rods really disappear. Based on that, the team of Euphrates and NIMS came up with their own recipe and created this cool film which I would like to call "invisible chain reaction!"(the title in Japanese is "invisible glass" though). The film is in Japanese, but the visual is so intriguing, you'll get the idea. Enjoy!
Over the past two and a half years, we've tried to be constantly evolving the tinkering studio environment to best support our programs and activities. Because we're out on the floor facilitating activities alongside explainers, we've been able to identify and develop solutions to the needs that arrive.
In the Tinkering Studio, we are always thinking about how to arrange materials for easy access during activities as well as ways that allow us to quickly and efficiently clean up at the end of the day. Our recent experiments with chain reaction materials organization inspired Nicole to make a couple of carts for the other activities that Explainers have been working on for the weekends.
She built two 'mini carts' with bin box storage panels on a rolling base. McMaster-Carr also sells pre-built carts that would work quite nicely for the same purpose although they are much more expensive.
When loaded with the materials for Scribbling Machines and Cardboard Automata, these two carts fit perfectly underneath our computer terminal in the closet next to workshop space. This helps keep our storage space more tidy while offering easy access.
Here are the carts with the materials loaded. I like how this system allows for different size bins depending on what materials are needed and I think the scale works well for individual activities.
And one last thing that's nice about the system is that when we're ready to lead the activities, we can just take the some of the bins right off the carts and put them on the table. These small scale innovations add up and make it easier for our faciliators to lead workshops in the Tinkering Studio. We'll continue to share our experiments with these sorts of environmental additions.
As part of our ASTC Community of Practice (CoP) on Making & Tinkering Spaces in Museums, we're hosting a hangout that highlights a single institution. This time it's with Arizona Science Center’s new CREATE space.
CREATE is a newly-rennovated 6,500 sq. ft. space opening to the public this Fall, designed as an active place where “science, design and engineering collide.” http://azscience.org/create
While seeing a space online isn’t the same as being there in person, being able to look at spaces in other places while hearing from staff about the vision behind the development as well as the myriad logistical issues they face day to day is priceless. Steven Weiner, Program Director of CREATE along with Stacy Sidman, Director of Special Projects, will take us on a tour and share their experiences to date.
Are you wondering what a CoP hangout is all about? It’s part of a Community of Practice that we formed around Making and Tinkering Spaces in Museums through ASTC – and the hangouts are topical discussions related to that work. Anyone can become a member of the CoP, it's free and open to all (for more info - see this link).
This week I received a special delivery from KitHub with the "make your toys talk kit" that they designed with Eric Rosenbaum. In the Tinkering Studio, we're interested in dissecting toys and creating twisted remixes, so having tools available to quickly add sound effects seemed like a fun thing to mess around with. We also think about ways to share our activities with physical kits and its fun to see others that do it well.
The package came with colorful tissue paper and nice bright instructions showing pictures of people working on the project. I like how there are instructions for a basic started activity to get you going, but other prompts that don't have step-by-step directions.
The kit came with an index card with a circuit board, mic, speakers, and cables attached to buttons or alligator clips. There also was a stuffed fox, some conductive materials to use with the electronics. It was pretty straightforward to set up the first project and make one button record a sound and the other play it. It was nice to have familiar materials (foil, paperclips, and safety pins) to complete the circuit.
After getting the toy working as shown in the instructions, I cut open the stuffed animal and inserted all the components into the skin. I made one paw be the record button and another be the playback. I could imagine some really funny mash-ups using the singing and dancing toys that we usually work with.
One thing that I like about this set is that it encourages you to find parts from your collection to add to the kit. We have a bunch of salvaged switches in the learning studio that I tested out to use for different purposes.
This first thing that I thought about was adding sound effects to our marble machines board. I attached a small dixie cup to the end of the switch and connected it to one of our blocks near the end of the run.
It's a little hard to hear at the end of the video, but as the marble hits the switch, my machine says "gooooooal" in celebration! I like how the kit works a a starter set that can be modified for different unintended uses. It will be exciting to think about other ways to incorporate new technologies into our work and continue to push the boundarys of tinkering activities.
Today marks the release of our second Tinkering Fundamentals online course, hosted by Coursera. We are very excited to, once again, share our work with such a large and engaged audience, and we wanted to make a couple of announcements related to it.
First of all, registration is still open for the class; it is absolutely free to register and take the class, so if you are on the fence as to whether you should take it or not, now is the time to do it!
Also, each week for the next six weeks we will host a live Google Hangout; they will happen on Fridays, at 11am PST. These are open to anyone, not just to participants to the course, and in the first half we will be presenting more broadly about a topic that related to making and tinkering, while in the second half we will address ideas and questions that came up during the class. Here is the schedule for the upcoming hangouts and their topics, and links to the YouTube pages where you can watch them, live or recorded.
July 24th (this Friday) – Creative Reuse and Scrounging for Materials
July 31st – Keeping a Tinkering Journal
August 7th – Tinkering as Playful Inquiry
August 14th – Meaningful Metrics and the Next Generation Science Standards
August 21st – Materials Management and a tour of the Tinkering Studio
August 28th – The Importance of Iteration—Ideas and Starting Points