On Saturday, October 15, we were excited to be part of the 2016 Wyoming Latina Youth Conference held on campus. As one of six workshops the young women participated in, we wanted to encourage a blending of science and art. Tonia, WyoMakers coordinator, called upon Mr. Cole Carpenter, an art education major, to help design and carry out the workshop. Cole designed a short activity that encouraged the girls to use the 3Doodler pens in a guided activity that required equal parts science/biology knowledge and problem solving. Here’s what Cole had to say about the day:
Latina Youth Conference Reflection
Working with the Latina youth conference attendees was a total joy and I am forever grateful that I was able to be a part of this experience. Having a passion for social justice and education, the opportunity to work with aspiring leaders in such a marginalized community was utterly inspiring. On top of that I would get the chance to share emerging technology (3Doodle pens) with the young women who came our session.
The conference theme was centered around science and creativity. Fortunately, the scientific process and the creative process are practically Identical. Starting with a hypothesis or “idea” to explore, then executing a series of trial and error based experiments until you reach a final product or conclusion. My plan for the attendees was to give enough structure for those who need a starting point but still leave some wiggle room for those who felt more adventurous. The lesson was to last 45 minutes and I would conduct it a total of six times that day. This kept the project deadline pretty constrained so it couldn’t be overly complicated.
I had never worked with a 3Doodle pen prior to this lesson… So that was the biggest hurdle I had to cross. My first project went as follows:
Students will use 3Doodle pens to draw plants in free space. Using models from the conservatory, participants will study the independent structures of the specimens and “sketch” them in 3D. By the end of the project attendees should have a free-standing plant sculpture.
After a quick tutorial on the equipment I realized some big changes had to be made. The pens are slower than I thought and it’s difficult to build height due to the flexibility and cooling time of the plastic. Lastly controlling the flow and getting a smooth consistent line was difficult. I couldn’t expect the students to accomplish more than I could, so with those barriers in mind I made some adjustments. Her was my second plan:
Students will use 3Doodle pens to construct a “plant” by drawing individual segments then combining the different forms into one structure. At the end of the session students should have 3Doodled at least one leaf supported by a stem and root structure.
I drew some templates for them to trace if they didn’t feel comfortable venturing on their own and gave a short lecture describing how the segments could be created. After they gave drawing a leaf a try, participants were allowed to draw whatever they would like.
Our first session had a slow start, the pens take 5-10 min to warm up so after the opening lecture we still had a few minutes to kill before the equipment was ready. Also the only consistent thing about the pens that day were the clogs they accumulated every 15-20 minutes but we powered through! The students really enjoyed using the Pens, although frustrating at times, the overall experience seemed to be received very positively.
Working with emerging technology is difficult. We don’t have all the bugs quite worked out just yet but it’s important to be both critical and constructive with the product. It’s easy to point out flaws but it’s a challenge to work out a solution. Having these young minds use the product and priming them with the idea of improving the situations they’ve been presented is a key step to critical thinking in the future. If I had another chance to build off of my experience, I would aim for something more functional. What could students “draw” that they could actually use…
Preservice Teacher Preparation
WyoMakers is one of two makerspaces at the University of Wyoming, which often leads to the question “what’s the mission here?” That’s an easy question for us to answer. Tonia’s initial motivation to start WyoMakers rested in wanting to develop maker education on campus in general, but the need to help prepare preservice teachers to use these facilities and tools quickly took center stage in all planning. Thus, we try to ensure that all workshops or talks we host or faires we visit places preservice teachers (or at least UW students) at the center of the activity planning and/or delivery. If you’re a preservice teacher at UW (or know one) and interested in hosting a workshop or being contacted when we have a workshop to offer, email us at [email protected].