Tinkering to the Moon!

This summer is the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing and to celebrate, our friends at Chabot Space and Science Center are creating a really cool temporary exhibition focused on moon themed photography.


We worked with them a bit earlier this month to think through possible tinkering extensions and hands on activities to connect to the elements in the show. We just worked through a couple quick prototyping sessions and didn’t fully flesh out the ideas, but it was pretty interesting to think about tinkering activities in a new context. We thought about light and shadow play, digital sensors of light/dark and temperature and projections onto spherical services.


For thinking about the photographs the most dramatic element is the light and shadow on the craters and geologic features. We made a couple experiments with using playdough or kinetic sand with a side light to feature the craters.


A second interesting element that we thought about was the way the temperature and light/dark on the moon surface becomes so extreme. I made a couple quick micro:bit cardboard prototypes that allowed people to cycle between showing different environmental values.

They would need to become a bit more solid but I can imagine a really cool exhibit where visitors could move around the environment and capture the different readings and compare the values to the differences on the moon.


Finally we tried out projecting patterns onto spherical surfaces (big yoga balls) to see how traditional light play activity might change. We’ve used concave screens for light play before but this was the first experiment working on a convex shape.

And we even experimented with a little take off of the “man in the moon” projecting our faces onto the surface for a playful photo booth.


It was really fun to test out these ideas, brainstorm with the exhibition team from Chabot and get the chance to think about ways to connect playful investigations of phenomenon with a topical subject. Hope that these experiments are inspiring to them and others celebrating the moon landing anniversary.