Friday, October 2, 2015

MaKey MaKey Scratch Interactive 'Zines

The beauty of the Interactive Storybook and the praise I received for the project prompted me to continue exploring the idea and form.

I took my own advice and remixed Praxis' Interactive 'Zine design. I followed his folding directions, but I built my circuit in a slightly different path than than his. The circuit and switches function identically.

I built one book for myself then ran a workshop as my final adult project at the Westport Library MakerSpace where I and two other adults each built books based around the same poem.

Like the Storybook, I collaged my example book. The workshop participants also collaged their pages.

I used a short Richard Brautigan poem, "Widow's Lament" as the text in my 'zine.

After folding and cutting the paper I collaged the story. I chose black and white or grayscale images in keeping with the mood and setting of the story.

The Scratch project enhances the story as the reader interacts with the 'zine by starting sound effects, different ones for each page. The wind comes from The Resident's "Eskimo" album, while the footsteps and the door sound effects are included with Scratch. 

Additionally, each time a key is pressed the image on the screen increases the "ghost" effect, adding to the snowy effect.

In this project, the keys on the MaKey MaKey or the keyboard are Up, Down, Left.

The workshop participants also chose to work with a Brautigan poem. Although we each used the same poem, the images in each 'zine and the Scratch projects all turned out differently.

I added some short pieces of wire with the insulation removed to my copper tape circuits, sandwiching the wire between two layers of copper tape. I used needle nose pliers to twist the wire and gave it an artistic look, like soft circuits, and made it less sharp.

Here is my 'zine.

My Scratch project interacts with the reader by turning on the camera when the daydream starts, including the reader in the visions of the poem's narrator.

Divya's project used sound effects.

Again, collaging removes the perceived inability to draw that many people feel. Brautigan's short poems work well in the limited space of the 'zine, though longer texts could be explored as well. The addition of other narrative elements to the poems, whether through sound effects or literally being projected into the Scratch project brings the text to life and engages the reader in new and interesting ways.

Share this post with your language arts, English lit, or world language teacher friends. As always, post your remixes!

Creator of Learning and Discovery Experiences

My Monograph web site has a snapshot of my work as Creator of Learning and Discovery Experiences at the Westport Library IMLS MakerSpace. 

This was a hard fun six week experience with people young and old, people new to technology, as well as a few seasoned pros.

My work focuses on the intersection of crafting and technology. I shared many techniques, tools, and approaches with those willing to take risks, test their hypotheses of how to reach a goal, and have whimsical hard fun.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

LEGO WeDo SpinArt 'Bot

During my six week gig at the Westport Library, a crowd favorite was the LEGO WeDo SpinArt 'Bot that I created with my son. For the big crowds, however, I adapted a model from @Zackboston to make bigger, messier art.

First, the turntable was geared to spin even faster.

A lasagne pan with a duct tape collar helped contain the mess.

The young and old alike enjoyed using it!

One thing that is exciting about taking something you make into the public is how people use it in unexpected ways. This young man used markers on the paper. It produced distinct spirals.

The senior citizens also had fun with it in their LEGO WeDo/Scratch engineering and programming class.

SpinArt has a low barrier to entry, allows you to experiment with different media, such as ink or paint, and produces random, exceptionally beautiful art. Build a turntable today with your LEGO WeDo kit, program it to spin in Scratch, and start spinning some art!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Programming Narrative in LightLogo

One way I am exploring LightLogo is by programming designs that form a narrative. Erik Nauman programmed an excellent example of storytelling with LightLogo that you should share with every Language Arts or English Literature teacher for its inventiveness and potential to integrate STEAM concepts in your learning environment.

My LightLogo project tells the story of light on Lopez Island over a day, from sunrise to a partly cloudy day to sunset and the stars coming out at night. 

This LightLogo project is composed of small procedures that are combined to create the master startup procedure. This type of programming, described in Dr. Seymour Papert's Mindstorms as "systematic procedures" (175), encourages the creation of "very simple modules [that] can be put together to produce complex results" (169).

Here is the startup procedure.
to startup
loop [
setpos 0
repeat 24 [sun
wait 50]
all blue wait random 1000 1750
repeat random 2 10 [cloud
all blue wait random 200 500]
repeat 18 [star]]
The newsunrise procedure cycles through a series of colors. This was the first procedure where I used let and make, after Michael Tempel clarified their use.

to newsunrise
setbrightness 0
let [num 0]
let [morn 4]
all :num
repeat 20 [ 
all :num
setbrightness :morn
wait 500
make "num :num + 3
make "morn :morn + 1]

Next, the sun procedure is repeated 24 times (one for each neopixel) with a brief pause between repetitions.
to sun
setc yellow
fd 1

Once the sun rises, the day progresses. Overhead, clouds pass. There is randomness built into the cloud procedure, so some days are less cloudy than others.
to cloud
setpos random 0 24
setc white
setbrightness 20
repeat random 5 15 [fd 1 wait random 100 250]

The newnewsunset procedure reverses the sunrise procedure and fades out.
to newnewsunset
setbrightness 20
all 72
let [num 72]
repeat 24 [ 
all :num
wait 500
make "num :num - 3]
let [light 20]
repeat 20 [
setbrightness :light
make "light :light - 1
all 0
wait 100]

The stars rise in random places and in random colors and brightness.
to star
setpos random 0 24
setc random 40 90
setbrightness random 5 30
repeat 4 [setc color + 5]
wait random 1000 5000

The startup procedure repeats. Each day is slightly different in regards to the number of clouds and the number of stars.

LightLogo is an inventive way to explore narrative through patterns of light. Pattern can be simple or complex, random or explicitly programmed. Share your LightLogo procedures and narratives!

Works cited:

Paper, Seymour (1993). Mindstorms Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas. New York: Basic Books.