Experiencing children engage in design processes using everyday objects, we realized that when looking at the future of digital fabrication, design thinking or tinkering – the overall demand of the users is openness. Make tools or processes that allow children the creative possibilities of their own imagination instead of trying to guide them on to a more specific path. Furthermore the tools/processes need to be intuitive and easy to use, because then we can “create” kindergarten designers.
Answering the question
“Building tomorrow’s technology together, how can digital creative tools support children as they grow?”
From birth, children have a natural curiosity. Technology has to support that curiosity. We need to stray from the path, where everything has to have a certain beginning or ending. Creative tools must have an undefined beginning, where users can transform the technology into the use they need for a certain project or idea. Children must be challenged to use the technology in ways differing from the original intent, they need to make questions instead of waiting for answers. There must be a way of expanding technology in a modular way across both age and skills. It doesn’t have to be modular in regard to a specific form, where other modules can be added, like with Arduino, Raspberry Pi’s and in particular LittleBits.
The game Little Big Planet for Playstation 3, has, in a way, this modular way of thinking. A big part of the game is the level creator, where players create and share new worlds or levels across the playstation network, where they can be played in various ways with other players across the globe. How do we get this way of thinking transferred from this little part of the digital world into a broader perspective in the “analog” world?
The 21st century brings other aspects of human values into the world. Technology is advancing faster than children grow and because of this, a whole new set of competences comes into play, when talking about a technology that must support children as they grow.
Basically it’s not the technology that is important, it is the way in which children understand the use of these technologies. The Hack your classroom/HackEducation movements, is questioning the way we see both the classroom and education and in this way contributing to let children find new ways of using formal settings or the classroom itself, and maybe most important giving the children the possibility to question the way they learn.
When children begin to hack technology in this way, they spark off a process that may evolve other creative thoughts or foster new ideas in others observing what they did.
Short video pitch about our project
March 29, 2014 was international Arduino Day, i took the trip to Bork Havn Efterskole. I talked with Heine Ravnholt earlier about coming and see how he and his students works with different maker processes. There was a handful of students, using their weekend at the makerspace, been given the opportunity to do so. His students working on different maker projects ranging from designing a 3D model sentry gun to be printed over different Arduino projects to working on hacking a Raspberry Pi.
Limits for the creativity or technology
Doing these projects the students showed an enormous creativity and insight in working with these technologies. The students having almost free borders in what they could do in projects, they could search for the limits in the their own skills and the technology working with. The students used a variety of sites on the internet where other makers shared many of their project for free, for other makes to print og remix for their own project. Then trying out new ideas the students searched for the limits of the technology they were using. Especially then they were working with 3D models which should be printed later in the process, a big part of that process is breaking the models into smaller pieces so they could fit the printer.
Seeing the light, literally
One of the students was working on Arduino for the first time doing a small project where he could program the Arduino to make a LED flash in a certain time. After he got that tone working he started to explore the possibilities of control more LED in different ways using the same code as he already has written to program the Arduino. Suddenly he was asking for the because his project didn’t work, then looking into his project he had copied his original code and multiplied it and changed the paradigms of it so the individual LED could be recognized from each other, but he lacked the basic knowhow of how the Arduino read his code, so by a simple composition of his code the LED did what he wanted them to do. I could see by his behavior that this was a big personal success and it sparked something in him wanting to dig deeper in this and fulfill his curiosity needs.
Sparkle the lights of curiosity
Heine told me a thing that sparkled my own curiosity about hackerspaces like this small one he created this weekend. As i could observe boys naturally seeked the boundaries of the things they worked with in the hackerspace. Girls wanted to create as much as the boys, they just wanted a useful design on their project, like wearable technologies and so on. This way of thinking creative technology projects like various Arduino projects could be a very useful idea to have in mind then looking into how different groups are creative/curious. By observing Heine on how he guided his students at their projects i noticed how he showed them how to fix certain problems without telling them direct what the problem was and therefor they found the problem themself and was able to fix them much faster.
This goes along with our vision to make a design that enables the student to rediscover their imagination. This way they get the succes and learn without been pinpointed to the problem from the started learning nothing but asking for help then the problems occur.