Thursday, March 2, 2017

March is for Making - March 2: Designing with Duct Tape

EMMA - a mobile studio for creating and making

Yesterday we featured an integrated STEAM lesson, today we'll share a quick and easy design challenge that you can implement as a stand alone challenge or as a warm up activity. The challenge is one that we tried when EMMA visited Grand Isle school in January to help students plan a project based learning event that will culminate in a community swing dance where students from grade 1 to grade 8 will be teaching community members new swing dance moves.

We started the day with this warm up activity to help students and teachers get their maker mindset in gear -- a design challenge to create an illuminated fashion accessory made with duct tape.

Duct Tape is considered a staple in a maker’s toolkit.  It has been used for everything from repairing Apollo 13 to creating colorful craft projects on a rainy day.   I would say no maker space is complete with an ample supply of duct tape!

So if you’re looking for a quick make, why not try to make something with duct tape.

After placing some basic supplies on each table (duct tape, LED diodes, and coin cell batteries) and outlining the challenge (design an illuminated fashion accessory out of  duct tape), I shared the model that Chris Braun and I had tested at a recent maker event,  I backed off and let them tackle the challenge of the day.

Interestingly, everyone totally ignored the model and tackled the challenge using their own prior knowledge and experience.   The important of prior experience became particularly obvious when the students approached me to asked if I had any copper tape.  I had not planned to include copper tape in the materials available, but upon their request, I dug up some copper tape and a few other supplies that they seemed interested in. Many of the students had recently completed a paper circuit project, so it made sense that in their first iteration of their design solutions they were looking to use copper tape.

In creating solutions,  our prior experience with materials and processes can influence our imagination.  This is one reason why engaging diverse makers who have experience with many different materials and problem solving approaches can yield the most creative solutions.  

It was inspiring to watch the process that occurred as the students and teachers approached the design challenge differently and imagined very different solutions.    Check it out for yourself with these two very different approaches that happened in less than 30 minutes.

Watch how these students approached the problem

and how these newbie teachers approached the design challenge

One challenge - So many solutions in such a short period of time!
Nice job Grand Isle students and teachers! 

What types of fashion accessories would you design with some basic maker supplies?

Or even more important what would your problem solving process look like or sound like?  

This quick and easy design challenge got everyone in a creative state of mind!  We were now ready to dive deeper into  design thinking and learn some new maker skills using fabric and conductive thread -- but I'll leave that for tomorrow's post.

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