Robot Dance Party at ScratchBDX2017

Earlier in the summer, I had the chance to test out a new Dancing Robot workshop at the Scratch conference in Bordeaux. Since our experiments with scratchpaper at MIT last summer, we've been interested in trying out new ways of connecting programming and computation into tinkering activities. 

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#flatgamejam Oakland

Last weekend, we hosted an all-day workshop with amazing guest artist Becca Rose who's visiting the Bay Area from Bristol, UK for a two week residency in the Tinkering Studio. I visited her studio in Bristol in June, and got really interested in something called a #flatgamejam where participants create hand drawn flat games (digital zine-like spaces based on real life experiences) using the unity programming language. 

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Makerspace at Ecsite 2017

I joined friends and colleagues from science centers and museums around the world to create a pop-up makerspace at the ECSITE (The European Network of Science Centres and Museums) conference in Porto. This was our fifth year of building an environment at ECSITE to engage conference participants in the tinkering process. This hands-on experience leads to great conversations and discussions about the possibilities for expanding making and tinkering to new settings. This year there were challenges and surprises along the way, but it was amazing to collaboratively transform a blank corner of a room into an active, playful, busy makerspace in just three days.

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Ryan Jenkins
Crafting With Code Experiments

During our month long tinkering residency at Chabot Space and Science Center, we tried several initial experiments with combining coding and craft. We prototyped different ways of making art with physical and digital tools and started to explore some of the aspects of “computational tinkering”. 

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Workshop at I/O Youth

Last week Google held its annual I/O conference for app developers and as part of the celebration, they invited school groups from around the bay area to try out hands-on activities and get excited about science, technology and programming.

We joined our friends at Science Journal, Little Bits, MIT Media Lab, and Toontastic to set up a wide variety of experiences around the room for the kids to test out. We brought a bunch of mechanical parts from dissected singing and dancing toys as tools that learners could use to experiment with simple circuits.

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Drawing Automata Ideas

During our tinkering residency at Chabot, we've started testing out different ways to make art machines that trace a path as they move across the table. Previously we've built scribblers that use an offset weight (hot melt glue stick) to vibrate and create motion. As well, last summer we worked with the tinkering studio team and LEGO foundation to prototype LEGO technic art machines with more complex movements. These initial experiments have inspired us to expand on the ideas and create some key parts to allow for deep explorations while maintaining the frugal materials and recycled aesthetic of the scribbling machines activity. 

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Circuit Bending Workshop

There are a lot of ways to reuse parts from dissected singing and dancing toys. We’ve mounted the mechanisms to use in electricity explorations or chain reactions, we’ve sewn the fur and stuffing to create mash-up toys and recently we’ve been investigating possibilities for hacking the circuit boards inside.

One of the ideas that we’ve been interested in exploring more is ‘circuit bending’ or the act of making creative short circuits to produce unexpected tones, sounds and music.We’ve done a few experiments, but to really dig into this topic, we invited over a couple guest tinkerers with some experience in the area

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