Back to school as an academic next term.

In what ways can Maker Education boost a child’s mental health and wellbeing?

This will be my focus as I join the Doctorate in Education (EdD) programme at Leeds University and combine research with our digital making programmes at The Foundation for Digital Creativity.  

I’ve accepted my offer and opted for the part-time route to link both roles and build on research in relation to a sociology of ‘making’ in education, and the connections between culture, technology and local networks in formal school settings. 

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MakerEd project example

Arts-based programmes for adults have long been evident within the context of mental health and there is increasing recognition that creative activities have an important role to play in improving the health and well‐being of individuals. However, research based on such programmes engaging young people in education is more limited.

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MakerEd project example

I’ll share more in time about research themes and the proposal as I join the School of Education in October.  In the meantime, we’ll continue to explore pedagogical approaches applied to maker education and thread those into new programmes with The Internet of Curious Things

Exciting maker times ahead 🤩

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Starting the new year with a STEM role model focus

This year has given me many opportunities to embrace change and direct more of my time into areas of passion and importance.

Alongside establishing programmes with the Foundation for Digital Creativity, we’ve been working with the STEM Ambassador Hub Trans Pennine to include opportunities to inspire young people exploring STEM futures by including the support of STEM Ambassadors.

As capable and realistic role models, we know that their input will positively impact on the perception of STEM futures for some students and equip them for possible roles in the digital and STEM world.

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From the recent #ThisGirlCodes Project (click image for more info)

I’m so excited by the opportunities this will give for young people to make connections with their own lives and consider real world environmental solutions as the programmes enrich learning.   

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Image taken by @BloodyNoraDJ at Make Believe in Leeds, April 2017 (click image for more info)

Moreover, it’s also my time to commit time as an Ambassador and share my passion for STEM to a younger generation. 

Induction was delayed until January, so that’s a perfect STEM start to 2018 😀

First Light: Electric Paint Lamp Kit

Perfect timing to build on the ‘Dynamic Circuits’ workshop we’ve just delivered with The Ada Show, and continue that exploration through creative tech.

If it weren’t for watching paint dry (literally, that’s not an opinion!), the instructions and boxed kit were so intuitive that it could’ve been ‘open to first light’ in under 10 minutes.

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A quick starter with the twist board and templates saw us up and running with the touch lamp, and origami themes soon emerging.

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Next to tinker with the dimmer and proximity variations before we embark on a personalised project.

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3D Festive Pi Hack

Told the kids they could crack open the selection box if they cracked the Python code.

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10 minutes later and I was left with the leftovers.  Next challenge is to change the colour, sequence and I get to keep the Curlywurly 😍

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Best festive accessory available for the Raspberry Pi from The Pi Hut.

Research published: A year’s #MakerEd in Leeds’ schools

So proud to have worked on this project with the team at Leeds University.

Research centred around interviews and workshops with Y8 & Y9 students, teachers, heads and community makers in Leeds.  Final paper is published here:

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MakerEd Leeds project blog here.

Next steps: Building a Digital Foundation (Spin turns confined to 💃)

Exciting times ahead!

The start of this new academic year has seen us launching The Foundation for Digital Creativity.

I’ve been blown away by the messages of support and encouragement received as I’ve ‘regenerated’ from my previous role over the Summer and new plans and collaborations emerge.

We’re on a mission to advance the education of adults and children, particularly in the fields of electronics, computing, engineering and digital literacy and inspire future generations to create, invent and learn through digital making.

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Want to know more about our upcoming activities, or chat through community and education programmes?  Get in touch, it’d be great to hear from you!

claire@digitalcreativity.foundation

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