\”touch screen light\”
I guest taught a 3rd grade after-school engineering & architecture program at PS.9 today. Small people are funny and creative. They were very clever and I was impressed.
I introduced the concept of visceral_Switch. I focused too much on energy – I\’m sure they are hearing energy green politics everywhere, and I didn\’t really want to join the of it push on them. By the time I got around to the visceral part, I had lost their attention. (Note to self: Don\’t talk for more than 15 minutes to 3rd graders. Or maybe anybody at all). This also highlights that I have been lagging on the visceral nature of my switch. Which is important, which is where I started –> matching not just action to systemic impact, but matching feeling of action to feeling of result. Let\’s not forget that this all started with a fantasy project that let me squeeze so hard that I would fly away….
When I asked where energy came from, we couldn\’t get past the wall. It was interesting to watch their faces as they realized that the don\’t know how electricity gets into their wall. This diagram & schematic seems important to draw & display. Perhaps next to any installation of visceral_Switch (light).
They really enjoyed Samsens\’ Buttons video.
The balloon button brought delight and the elevator control brought exasperation. One boy commented that his friend in a wheelchair wouldn\’t be able to get anywhere as he is just one person. Another girl suggested that you could add a \”wheelchair\” button.
I asked them to make any control for light that they wanted. At first they had a bit of a hard time getting past the idea of regular switches (they were just adding things on to the flip-light switches), but upon a many ridiculous suggestions weird looks turned into lovely ideas. Children need more people to support their wacky ideas.
me: maybe a bird flies by and the light turns on?
girl1: but what if you don\’t have a bird?
girl 2: buy a bird!
girl1: but what if you dont want to buy a bird (rolling the eyes)? and no bird is flying by your window?
me: well what could you do to get a bird to fly by your window?
girl 2: feed it!
me: that\’s a good idea…
(…girl 1 does not seem hugely impressed)
Some worked in groups, some alone. It was interesting to watch how much the kids preferred to work in groups, and didn\’t have too much of a power struggle as adults (although they did a little bit…\”hey that was my idea! i get to build it…\”)
One boy made a paper airplane and was desperately asking permission to fly it. I told him to work on his light switch. He then told me it was his light switch, that you throw it and if it lands in the target the light switches on. I told him it was brilliant and to draw it, that his light switch would train people to be really good paper air plane throwers if they wanted light. He looked at me funny and said no, the target would just be really big.
We had feathers and I tried to encourage the kids to think about how they felt and how that could be a different kind of switch. One girl came up with a switch that tickled your nose when you turned the light on so that it would make you want to turn the light off as soon as you didn\’t need it anymore.
A group of girls built a light switch that was fun. Presenting is a really good skill, they were nervous a bit but got into it. You should really start presenting as early as possible. Their light switch was a kind of ball through the tube landing in a basket. They said it made it fun, and self-critiqued that it probably wasn\’t very good for disabled people. Another girl was all over it, asking \”How do you turn it off? How many balls does it come with?\” And a boy, \”Can I make a recommendation that you put sensors all along the edge of the basket so that if it lands anywhere there it will still turn on?\” I guess these kids are self-selected engineering class kids but they are awesome.
Another group of girls made a personal automation light switch. They used different colors to represent different brightness levels, and the light would self-adjust according to your personal (set) preferences. It would have multiple users, and would know who you are according to your handprint. Interesting how they bring up total automation… how easily you fall into a scenario where you trade convenience for submission to the machine. I didn\’t push them to question this. I would love to teach more long-term so that I could push slowly, and find out what their reactions would be once they became more aware of these issues. But using the handprint as an ID is a beautiful idea…
A few children made sadistic light switches to encourage less use of energy. It seemed too much in my gut-reaction style..and made me realize that I really really really do not want this to be the main thrust of what I\’m getting across. Although, it was funny to watch. And it did get them thinking – how often are you asked to engineer things that are mis-functional? But – it was supporting this idea that to be good to the environment we need to suffer. Introducing and promoting empowering enjoyable environmental DO actions (as opposed to DON\’T) are so so necessary! Maybe if I teach them in the spring…
\”if you press too long it goes really long if you press a short time it goes a short time.\”
\”watching you turn on the lights in a right way, if not it does not turn on\”
\”kind of clay that makes you see your fingerprint\”