Last weekend, littleBits held an electronics prototyping class at the AIGA sponsored Make/Inspire Workshop for teens at the Harlem School of the Arts. We brought in a good friend of littleBits, Doris Cacoilo, an artist and educator who sculpts the minds of students all the way from kindergarten through college, to help us teach students how to make autonomous drawing machines. Students aged 8 to 16 came out for the workshop, and generated some truly incredible pieces of artwork. They worked through the design process sketching, prototyping, and putting the finishing touches on an autonomous art bot, all while having tons of fun! See what Mashable had to say about the workshop!
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If you’re interested in putting together your own workshop, get in touch info [at] littlebits.cc
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Doris sat down with us after the workshop and gave us a little insight on the workshop process and why she feels littleBits were an incredible asset to the teaching and design process.
littleBits: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got involved with littleBits?
Doris: So I’m an artist, and for the last 6 years I’ve been teaching art, culture, and media from K through 3rd grade all the way up to students at Hunter College and Rutgers. I’ve been following Ayah’s project for a long time, really interested in the mission at littleBits. Recently Fady invited me to come in and design and work on the workshop. Originally, coming in we wanted to design something thinking about AIGA’s mission but also to have a person lead a new workshop idea, so I came in and sort of led a new concept.
lb: What was the main objective of the workshop?
D: With littleBits we wanted to brainstorm something that would connect art, design and the mission of littleBits. We were thinking about AIGA and while we were brainstorming we thought that we would bring together what littleBits was about with art and conceptual thinking. We thought a drawing machine would be really cool. Immediately, we thought about generative drawing and making marks on paper autonomously because littleBits could make that and there was still enough room inside of that concept for all of the participants to have space to experiment while still meeting the challenge we were presenting them.
lb: How did you prepare for the workshop?
D: We knew that ultimately we wanted the machines we generated to make marks on paper, so we knew prototypes would focus on the Bits that moved. We had the vibration motor and the DC motor and those would be the ones that would allow the art materials to move across the paper in a new and unique way. When we prototyped before the workshop we had imagined that the students might just copy what we had come up with. The real surprise and treat was that nobody repeated what we prototyped, and so it was really exciting that the students took the tips, saw what we had made, and made completely original art machines.
lb: What was it like prototyping with the students in the workshop?
D: I think what was exciting right from the beginning was this sense of magic or awe as soon as the LEDS light up, as the DC motor starts to spin and that’s really exciting. We were thrilled to discover that the students were fearless when they started playing with the Bits. It’s a really easy point of entry. As soon as they play they see the possibilities so we have all these art materials out and they play with the Bits connecting them to a paint brush or marker, and that’s where the prototyping started to happen for them.
lb: How did playing with the Bits encourage creativity and learning?
d: I think that one thing we noticed was that the variety of art materials didn’t even begin to grasp the variety of the art bots that could be made, but we could see that the Bits function as a catalyst to larger projects. So in that relationship the Bits spur experimentation. That’s really exciting. You have a Bit along with some other materials you might be more familiar with and you can now create an object that can move art materials around a paper autonomously. The interaction was exciting. The Bits allow a quick point of entry, and the possibilites from there can really grow quickly.
For a details on how to run this workshop, check out the lesson plan here