Flipping STEAM

Looking forward to getting my hands on the new Molecularis flipbook when it ships in August.

Great taster, and fun, by way of a surprise PDF with the shipping survey from their recent Kickstarter campaign.

 

Advertisements

Constraints on creativity

Much has been written this week about a squeezed creative curriculum in our schools, including a perceived emphasis of teaching children to code to the detriment of other subjects in a timetable.

Two points close to my heart and, for me, very much linked to curriculum and a wider perspective.  Also highlighted through conflict coming out of research into digital making (and creativity) in the formal curriculum and reasons towards my commitment to the Foundation for Digital Creativity CIC.

As I contributed to the start of the Leeds Digital Festival by talking about bridging the digital skills divide, then curriculum and conflict rear their heads.

So two questions to think about when we talk about balancing the curriculum and ideas for change:

  1. Are we equipping all young people with the knowledge and skills needed to prepare for a digital future through a broad and rich curriculum?
  2. If not, why not?

And straight away my focus comes back to the support needed to ensure that curriculum achieves it’s fundamental aim.

Nothing new, for anybody remembering the challenges that school leadership teams faced when implementing the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategies. Priorities, pressures and support mechanisms (or not).

Understanding the priorities placed on targets for particular subjects and the shift in how schools are supported (does freedom and autonomy for schools facilitate this?) to offer a broad and rich curriculum ought to go some way towards an emphatic approach of opinions and support.

At this point we could go down the ‘community and parental viewpoints about a shift in league tables’ route, but let’s leave that for another day.  They are interlinked, though.

I live in hope that curriculum research and noise from Ofsted is the catalyst needed for every child to learn from a broad curriculum, and be equipped at the end of it with a balanced range of knowledge and skills.  To give them choice and options for a future digital life ahead.

Until that day, will we continue to hear more about exam hot houses, 2 year KS3 programmes and a narrowed primary curriculum?

Until that day, will we also continue to hear opinions and suggestions from inside and outside of the education landscape about including more creative and/or STEAM based curricula?

I hope so, but under the umbrella of a broad and balanced curriculum.  We see STEM and STEAM acronyms talked about more now and when related to formal education I think in pedagogical and support terms.  And I do consider the support and national network of STEM learning, so don’t hold it against me if I slip from using the STEAM acronym when you think I ought not to.

I’ve got a fit for purpose curriculum on my mind and look towards wider participation programmes to encourage particular groups of students into STEM subjects from the school curriculum.  Perhaps girls into Computing at KS4 or looking to the work that the Institute of Physics have conducted on gender balance over the last few years.

Let us not forget that our students make selections for KS4 from the disciplines included in STEM or STEAM, not as a subject, as options to individualise their broad and rich curriculum. Consider the constraints on those choices, through curriculum options or wider considerations, and then we recognise the difficulties in offering a STEAM approach for those who wish to pursue one.

We’ll also continue to hear more about an emphasis on teaching kids to code and forgetting about the whole computing curriculum. See, I’m education focused again and thinking about the different support mechanisms that have been in place since before September 2014 , the start of the computing curriculum and still now we hear a lot more about the CS element.  Again, another and separate conversation about supporting/developing teachers and leadership teams, but a similar theme.  The ‘T’ in STEM or STEAM within the curriculum can be broadly technological and with digital literacy linked across every subject but the foundation subject is computing.

So until the day when we see that broad and rich curriculum for every child, throughout the academic year, please stop yourself and ask ‘where and how’.  How can all schools be supported and it be reported on holistically rather than core subjects prioritised even during inspection? *

Something I question as a parent and an educator.

*I’ll leave reporting (or not) on foundation subjects to another post.

Heat transfer printing with tinkering possibilities

A birthday surprise this year was a Saturday Heat Transfer Printing course at the fantastic Leeds Print Workshop.  Result, loved it : )

Great chance to learn about basic techniques and it certainly opened my eyes to possibilities with my own e-textile projects and ambitions with creative data viz.

A snapshot of my learning steps and the foundations for adding wearables:

Exploring surface pattern imagery

First steps with heat transfer techniques centred around getting stuck in with random outcomes.

Having a go with painting, sponging and paper templates and seeing what emerges through a design process based on time to explore over cups of tea.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Trialling brushstrokes with dye

I’d taken along some inspiration in the form of sakura fabrics from another gift, a Japanese Furoshiki project.  That was my starting point of an idea to explore with the brushes and adapt later in the day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Understanding the beauty of layering

It’s a few of years since the first spark of interest about printing emerged from a conversation with the Bare Conductive team.  Yep, should’ve done it earlier.  I’m hooked!

You might be able to make out my thoughts along the way, for layering circuit designs within the patterns on each textile piece, but also for layering multiple pieces for a future project.  Big thanks to Kirsty at Leeds Print Workshop for developing those ideas with me during the session.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Using new equipment

For those of us extolling the virtues of laser cutting as a brilliant way to see your designs come to life quickly, then using the heat press gave that same feeling of (nearly) instant success.

Transferring the dye to make the surface pattern at 180˚ means my pieces are permanent as long as I stick to a 40˚ wash!

IMG_20180414_140139

Producing new (not blank) canvases (well, synthetics) for e-texiles

So here are the pieces created during that first session, which will now be adorned with sensors and LEDs as tinkering and research projects with the Internet of Curious Things programme.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Shake Your #STEAM Power

  • Looking for a project with a social good theme and to build on resilience?
  • Perhaps signposting girls towards STEAM through inspiring female role models?
  • And support to make classroom connections or resources to develop design thinking skills?

These were some of the reasons that I travelled to BETT2017 in January, with an intention to ask the MakerEd community for inspirations and stories.

And that sparked when I discovered and met the team behind this Shake Your Power project.

You might’ve seen their social enterprise online with a more established Spark project. Or recognise their founder, Sudha, from her accomplishments as the percussionist in the band Faithless.

Find out more from her TED X talk from Mumbai below:

The Spark educational kits offers a brilliant STEAM opportunity to explore magnetic induction and principles of electricity, alongside purpose with renewable energy and sustainability .

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The kit is lovely!  Feedback from children that have helped me to build the project and consider activities has been really positive, particularly with the aesthetics and language used in the magazine.

Inspiring girls?  Yes, and actually inspiring everybody including adults.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Exploring paper circuits before a live data feed

I’ve got an idea in mind to create a piece of artwork to visualise some live data, and wanted to see how quickly we could create a starter paper circuit.

Ordering Chibi Lights from the good folk at Pimoroni meant a first attempt notebook circuit within 24 hours and a whole lot of ideas to follow up.

A completely different context here, with a Spanish and dance theme explanation to follow 👠

img_1565

STEM to STEAM: Coding Art with Sphero

An opportunity to look at drag and drop programming with the Sphero and see how far we could extend initial STEM to STEAM ideas for it.

We’ve been controlling with a phone app and coding with Tynker, so for this project SPRK Lighting Lab was used with an iPad.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Jackson Pollock style influences, although what we’re really hoping for is progression of programming to aspire to A Bigger Picture by David Hockney.

Yorkshire dreams as next steps. One day  🙂

Robotic Art on the Left Bank of the River Aire?

Since the last Raspberry Jam in Leeds, back in July, it’s been on my mind to try out more activities with the Watercolorbot.

That Summer’s day event was hosted at Digital Garage, with the backdrop of Leeds Dock, and it got me thinking about real-time art applications and projects.

Robotic art possibilities on the Leeds’ Left Bank?

FullSizeRender-8

Wanted: Artist’s brush or input tool

In the last couple of weeks I’ve also been intrigued about AI with art for data visualisations and in particular the AI Painter project.

We’ve been manipulating images and taking art as a medium for data visualisation pieces, alongside further considerations with WaterColorBot as a hackable tool.

And so my fundamental aim shifted and started to centre around opportunities to add a graphics tablet as an input device to manipulate images and create a painted output.

all compoenents

Painting by Stylus?

‘Painting by Stylus’ and ‘Paint Brushed with Watercolorbot’ were the intended outcomes but drivers were a stumbling block when connecting the different components for the hardware I was seeking.

FullSizeRender-7

Photoshop possibilities?

Until another collaboration with a colleague last week, who was successfully using AstroPad to give graphics tablet functionality through an iPad.

FullSizeRender-6

Tools from the ‘Graphics Tablet’

That’s given me opportunities to explore and manipulate data through Photoshop and AstroPad tools, using the stylus on the iPad, and also with a connected workspace through the Macbook and Watercolorbot.

allcompoenents

Connected tools

It’s early days yet with example activities tested to add layers using Photoshop. That’s given a stimulus to add custom brush strokes to some images or take sections to modify or display with alternative data visualisation examples and manipulated outputs.

 
#GonePainting.  Back soon.