Yesterday, we had the pleasure of hosting a workshop for the wonderful kids that are attending Brightworks, a fantastic school based on tinkering here in San Francisco. We decided to try an activity that we are still developing, and therefore is in a somewhat rough form, because we knew that these kids would be able to use their own familiarity with the process of messing about with materials to supplement whatever shortcomings our activity design still had. I think everyone involved learned a lot and, it almost goes without saying, had a great time.
For me, one of the most interesting aspects of the day was shifting my thinking from the usual situation we are in — that is, having to provide a “finished” experience to our visitors, that ends when they leave the Tinkering Studio — to realizing that here we have the opportunity to offer a provocation to a group of tinkerers who then have the chance to keep working on whatever they started with us, and take it in whatever direction they want.
We started by introducing a few simple techniques to cut, fold, and pop out shapes with stiff bristol paper, briefly demonstrating a couple of tips that might make the process easier.
We also had examples of scenes that could be constructed using those techniques hanging in the space, which we had created in the previous weeks, while experimenting ourselves with the process.
We wanted to keep the focus on construction rather than decoration, so we opted to not put out colored pencils, crayons, or markers, and just use pencils and a few black sharpies.
Construction started in earnest right away, with lots of facilitators at hand: six from the Tinkering Studio, and six Collaborators from Brightworks, for a total of 13 kids!
A lot of the kids were in the 6-8 age range, and we were a little worried that the activity required too much fine hand manipulation, but they did not seem fazed or slowed by that at all.
Pop-up shapes start appearing everywhere.
The collaborators also got into it, and started exploring geometry, as well as shadow-play.
Beakface rules, and the font is really nice too! The kid who made this said he had played with pop-ups before, but never this specific triangular mechanism.
Some kids got really interested in the iterative nature of the process, and created many versions of the same mechanism.
Quinn made a very unique three-dimensional shape, and then realized that it worked well as a marble chute!
And finally, our friend, Tinkerer in Residence, and Brightworks director Gever Tulley created his own pop-up as well!
Stay tuned for the second part tomorrow, because after a short break we moved on to large scale cardboard construction!