August 17, 2016
This post has been a long time in the making because it was the first in a series of Maker experiences this summer. I’m still not at the blogging expertise level that allows a blogger to just crank out a post as soon as there is something to write about. No. WordPress is still something with which I wrestle.
Not to be too dramatic about it, but putting together the YouTube videos and managing those links and getting them in the right places continues taking me more time than it should. To be managable, I need a better workflow.
But here it is. When I was first invited to put together a week-long Maker experience at Green Mountain Performing Arts, I didn’t know that “camp” was different than the type of camps I went to as a kid. I imagined a big camp with lots of programs running all at once. I thought I would have a group of campers that would come to be from their previous workshop, spend some time with my workshop, and then move on to their next workshop. That was not how it really works.
As it turned out, my offering would be the entire camp experience for the participants for their day. There were no camp counselors or anything. We met in a performing arts center that was empty during the hours of camp. Ballet and Hip Hop classes took place in the evenings. We set up shop in the lobby, with plenty of space for our needs, and had access to the dance studios when we needed it. It was air conditioned.
Going through all my materials to pack separately for the workshops turned out to be impractical. I just piled all my stuff in the car. When I got there the building was empty and I thought maybe I was on the wrong day in the wrong place. It turned out that I was only early. The Director arrived and unlocked the door. I carried in my stuff. The lobby had tables and lots of space to hold my stuff. This was going to be great.
Instead of working outdoors with heat and bugs, we had a nice contained space. I had time to unpack and prepare before the campers arrived. As their parents/caregivers started bringing them in, I had my Digital LED Belt out. (I had made at Constructing Modern Knowledge . It was turned on to show the lights blinking in an amazing array of colors and beats.) This is video I made using Snapchat at the conference where I made the belt:
Campers included four wonderful children ranging in age from six through eleven. Skip ahead to Monday Day One to see video of our first day. We tinkered with Snap Circuits. Then Wiggle Bots. We use Snapchat video creation tool, but we did not post our snaps on that platform. We saved to camera roll and added to YouTube clips. We also made some green screen videos.
What follows is a look at some of the material/equipment that I had with me. You can slip over it now and come back to it later if you are interested. Just go down to “Monday – Day One.”
Here are some things that can be done with Teachergeek WiggleBots :
Here is another product from the same company: Teachergeek bugs
We made them later in the week.
Here’s the camp experience:
Monday – Day One
We were getting acquainted. The first day of anything is a “get acquainted” day. We began with some Snap Circuits, some Wiggle Bots and some Snapchat. We later got to some green screen video and some different kinds of tinkering. When parents/caregivers came to pick up their kids, we realized that in four hours no one had eaten a snack. Incredible. I simply forgot to bring a snack. And those who brought a snack never asked if they could eat it. We were so absorbed in creation. We may have a been a bit nervous. I can go all day without eating, but I try to eat before I realize that I’ve lost my pep.
Tuesday – Day Two
I began the afternoon with a Periscope broadcast before the children arrived:
(Note: Periscope is a live stream broadcast. People in my circle were commenting through text on the screen and I was responding. Once the video is saved to the cameral roll, those text comments are no longer visible.)
We made ScribbleBots using a mixture of TeacherGeek materials and materials that I bring to MakerFaires such as ScribbleBots and JitterBugs. We made more green screen videos and Snapchat clips, too. Notice how the markers were ingeniusly used in ways that had nothing to do with scribbling! That was cool.
I love seeing the first child on the greenscreen in rapt attention as he figured out how the sample green screen background worked. It was fascinating to watch as he learned. The other children chose their own backgrounds from Pixabay. This site offers free clips that do not require citations of the source. By the way, our green screen is simply a plastic shower curtain liner. It’s not perfect, but it works.
Here is a video that I produced with help from RETN about making JitterBugs a few years back:
Here is a video of Bubber, which was a favorite of one of the participant during the latter part of the week:
Wednesday Day Three
I began the day once again with a Periscope broadcast to show both the belt (worn as a necklace for ease of view) and the masks we were going to make that day:
We starting making what are often called e-textiles. Here is a link to my first blog post on e-textiles. We filmed using Snapchat as usual, and we incorporated use of the LittleBits. We continued using the Wiggle Bot materials in ways they were not intended for. That’s what tinkering is all about!
We also starting using the soldering iron. We were trying to repair on of my MaKey Makeys. See below for a video showing what a MaKay Makey is. We continued making greenscreen videos. It’s great watching the same boy as before beginning to really interact with the background. It’s a sample that is provided by the app, DoInk. Later in the week, he starts chosing his own backgrounds.
Thursday – Day Four
I didn’t have time for a Periscope broadcast on Thursday. I was preparing for some new things we would be doing. We were making something more complicated and following directions as opposed to free-style tinkering. As usual, we used Snapchat to film ourselves. By the way, I was still trying to repair the MaKey Makey that needed some soldering. No luck.
We began working on the Teachergeek bugs . See above for videos from the company.
At first we were using the soldering iron to soften the plastic so that we could bend it. It worked just fine. The next day, when we tried to use it for soldering, we had difficulty. But we only got part way through the project on Thursday. You will see that we made more green screen videos and used Snapchat to film each other.
This was the day when we once again attempted to film in a collaborative manner. The children started finding costumes (mostly hats and masks) and props (mostly candycane canes that they used as swords), and worked to try to agree on the backgrounds. It was not easy! We had moved into the dance studio by this time. Some of them were a little camera shy at times. Some of them were very interested in physical comedy and less interested in story or plot.
There was no doubt that a lot of fun was had by all:
Friday – Day Five
The video I put together below, as with most of the videos I edited in the past week, does not show events in the order in which they occured. The boy who was singing using all the different Snapchat lenses was probably recording himself while I was recording someone else doing something else. Sometimes I would get to a certain point and realize that a certain child had not had a chance to play with the lenses so I would hand them my ipod and tell suggest they go play with it.
Meanwhile, we were doing more than green screen video production. It wasn’t filmed. The participant were doing all kinds of tinkering, but I was using that time to help others choose the backgrounds for their green screen video. Or, I was sitting with a group facilitating their plans for the video. In some cases, the plans were abandonned in favor of improvisation, as you’ll see.
One thing I did not get any video for was the time we spent on the MaKey Makey. But here is a video that shoes what the MaKey Makey is all about:
We had a great week. I was tired by the end. Mostly, I was elated by all the fun. But the driving (I live over an hour away) and the loading and unloading of materials/equipment took their toll. I had no time to rest or reflect but Saturday was the Rutland MiniMakerFaire at which I was to facilitate my interactive booth. I simply weeded out anything not needed at the faire and left it on one side of the garage to sort through later. The rest went back in the car. After a good night of sleep, I was off to Rutland.
Later, after yet another conference (Maker Places Conference in Burlington, Vermont) I was able to take some time to reflect on the week. There will be a post on that.
What are your experiences with tinkering?
How do you feel in front of a video camera?