Posts Tagged 'Passions'

Planning a new Passions genre: the DIY Studio

As Tarrey has already mentioned here on the blog, one of the first things that we thought of when we decided we wanted to experiment with making and DIY at the Project School was how we could us Passions – three week long classes the school runs that give kids a chance to dive deeply into something they care about. As Christian, Tarrey and I started planning, we realized that one thing we could do was to create a new “genre” of Passions all around DIY and maker work, sort of a themed series that kids who get into it could easily identify. We’re calling these “DIY Studio” passions, giving a nod both to the do-it-yourself aspect of maker work that will be found in all of them, but also to the nature of the space we’re trying to create – a place where kids are encouraged to experiment, tinker, share and give feedback to each other on their creations, much like artists do in a studio setting.

Our first experiment, which we’re planning on kicking off at the end of January when the next round of Passions starts, is the DIY Sound Studio. We’re going to use the theme of sound to create a set of compelling tinkering kits that kids can use to start making. So far we’ve thought up a number of fun sound oriented activity kits:

  • soundHomemade Speakers
  • Non-electronic Vinyl Record Players (using needles, cups and chopsticks!)
  • Inventive Instruments using Makey Makey, which lets you turn regular objects into an interface for your computer
  • Homemade Model Ears
  • Sound Visualizations
  • Using Audacity to generate new types of sounds

The kits and associated activities are still in the ideation phase, but we think they’ll be pretty neat. We’re going to test each of the kits ourselves and then come to a final set to pilot during Passions.

The broader idea for the DIY Studio is that it can then extend into other areas – DIY Circuit Studio, DIY Architecture Studio, DIY Mapping Studio, etc. Each can explore making through a different theme keyed to different areas kids might be passionate about. And with each one, we’re hoping to build a culture of making, tinkering and sharing not just among the kids, but also among all the teachers here at BPS. Ideally, the DIY Passions serves a space where BPS teachers can build the capacity to think creatively about how to bring maker work into other parts of the curriculum.

Looking forward to sharing things as they develop!



Identity Building

In my limited, but expanding experience with Bloomington Project School, my observation is that it has begun to develop, or perhaps was developed with an identity of being forward thinking, and based in a systems thinking, and sustainability model. This identity development is both top down and from within the student body.

A significant component of the school’s culture is one in which the students are given agency through being active partners in developing their own education. This process is seen most clearly in what is known as Passions, a forty minute block of time four days a week where the students are able to participate in hands on activities of their choosing and design. These activities range from making jewelry with duct tape to yoga to geocaching and mapping. These Passions sessions run for three to four weeks, then some new ones are structured, some favorites remain, and the students rotate into a new experience for the next round.  

The children have agency in developing parts of the structure of their learning, and through that experience their self-identity as both individuals in a community of students, and in the broader community of Bloomington. This is valuable in how it may lead to their capacity to positively affect and help develop the identity of Bloomington itself, a town that has as its primary face forward an identity wrapped in the trappings of Indiana University. The children, through their development of both identity and systems thinking skills, can begin to look beyond their immediate school environment, and into the community of Bloomington in ways that can allow for its deeper histories and broader population to be more integrated into the conversation of the town’s own identity.


Knowledge Building Through Construction

So, some of the primary thoughts that I’ve had around the Maker Cart and future FabLab are that they are generative spaces. That is that they serve to broaden and deepen the potential of the learning environment through the affordances, both actual and virtual, of the tools.

This is to say there is no reason to narrowly frame the space in terms of how it can serve just one Passion, but rather how can it serve any number of the passions at once. For example while it may serve a Passion around designing and constructing architectural spaces through the utilization of TinkerCad and 3D printers, it can also serve to deepen the Passions of geocaching, nature walking, and mapping concurrently by allowing for embroidering GPS pathways and waypoints in conductive thread as a map of everyone’s experiences and patterns of movement in each of those passions. This could be a collaborative tapestry that then even leads into map of where the 3D printed buildings are located.

This is a rhizomatic manner of thinking about the affordances of these maker spaces. It also goes back to how, as Rafi was talking about, we can make thinking visible. This of course also feeds right back into, Tarrey’s showing by doing of the things that are possible with these spaces. It is a way, through making both the children’s, and teacher’s thinking visible to illustrate the potential of the Maker Cart, and FabLab in the teaching space of the classrooms, and the interconnectivity of the various “disciplines” that we teach children.


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