For a while, we have been experimenting with how to use the monitors in the space to provide inspiration for people trying out tinkering activities. So far we have looped some of our favorite videos (like pythagoras switch) and played slide shows of past events. Our current set-up of the Tinkering Studio with wind tubes has given us the chance to experiment a little with showing real-time video in the space.
A few months back, we shot some video from inside a wind tube in the Learning Studio. We were pretty happy with the results and for a while we had a loop of the movie we made playing on the monitor by the work area. Over the past few days though, we've sometimes heard kids ask if the screen could be showing a live feed so they could see their own creations floating and spinning in the tube.
So this morning Sebastian and I tried hooking up a webcam for that very purpose. It worked really well, especially with the camera mounted on top of the ridge of the fan, giving participants the ability to see their contraption from a whole new perspective. One problem we encountered was that when running at full screen, the video was a little slow. Our solution was to display the video in a smaller format and just mask out the extra part of the picture with cardboard. It inadvertently turned out to be kind of a nice design element to frame the monitor with a familiar material.
We like the addition of a camera to the environment for a couple of reasons. One is that it encourages people to make things that stay in the tube so they can see it on the TV for a longer time. Also Sebastian and I were talking about how we like to imagine being miniaturized and seeing some of the flying contraptions in wind tubes or the marbles rolling through the tracks at marble machines as if they were giant sized. Kids already talk about their wind tube creations as zeppelins, rocket ships and monsters and hopefully seeing them from a bugs-eye perspective can add to their experience.