Assignment, #5 Tinker
Unstructured play gives kids the space they need to tinker and take risks - both vital for
the budding entrepreneur. - Darell Hammond
I started with a mind map. It is a habit I’ve gotten into for projects. I chose a light,
pleasant, font for this project, too. [It’s Comic Neue, and is available, free at:
http://comicneue.com/ ] I used an on line tool, a software program used for 3D drawing,
and some other tech tools for this assignment.
I began with some source material, including a photo of an empty toilet tissue roll, a
couple of software generated mazes, an image of some geometric shapes and a color
All my choices have something in common. They have shape, line, and form. I chose the
paper roll because, initially, I thought we would play a game and try to come up with as
many uses for an empty roll that we could write down in five minutes. I did this in a class
several years ago, and my favorite was “use it to see if your watch glows in the dark.” A
couple of others included: flattening it and using it as a template for a rectangle, and
using the end as a template for a circle or use it as a hamster’s dormitory.
Next, I chose a couple of mazes I generated with an on line maze generator. I
encourage everyone to play with this tool: http://www.mazegenerator.net/ Why a maze?
I am working to encourage local groups to construct one in an open area in my town,
and mazes have always fascinated me. They are structured, encourage experimentation,
are interactive, and come in many forms. I did a project a while back that was a bound
pad of different mazes that you could carry and use to trace with your finger or a stylus
in order to relax and take your mind off bothersome thoughts.
The next image was an image of shapes, and I thought I would challenge the “class” to
make things out of the individual shapes. I would supply a template, they would cut them
out and then use them to create objects, faces, etc. They would play with the shapes,
measuring angles, noting similarities, noting sides, parallels, etc., as long as they liked, and
as worked with them, I would hint that the shapes could be dimensional, they could each
have a musical note associated with them, and so on. There would be NO limit on how
many of the same shapes they could use.
Finally, I chose a palette of colors. They were asked to 1) give the colors their own
names, 2) find things in their environment with the same color, and 3) choose five colors
they would use for their room, their web site or the outfit they wore the next day.
Figure 1 Do you know the names of these two colors? Does it make sense to you? Answers at bottom of document.
I chose the mazes to work with. I imported a maze I generated, above, into Sketchup.
< http://www.sketchup.com/ >
Figure 2 Maze imported into Sketchup. Figure used for scale.
I wondered what kind of exercises I could encourage if the class was asked to extend
each WALL (the solid black lines) of the maze several feet vertically, giving them some
dimension, using the figure in the image as a scale. I would ask that the walls be given
thickness. What would happen if sections of the maze were cut apart and reassembled in
a different configuration? Can someone tell the class how they “solved” the maze. Did
they have to retrace their “steps”? Can they metacognate while they worked the maze
and verbalize it as they worked the maze on an overhead projector. What words do they
use? What can this teach them about themselves or other students doing the same
thing? What are the qualities that might make one person much faster than others when
a maze is being “solved”? Groups could generate mazes, exchange them with others, and
see who could solve the maze first. If anything, this would teach organization, tactics and
Figure 3 Floor plan of a large, custom home. Similarities?
I would ask them to use the on line generator to make some mazes, then I would ask
them to make a couple of mazes by hand. Where do they encounter problems? Is this
easier to do with graph paper? They might find what they need, here:
Figure 4 Rat maze made with duct tape and cardboard
Lastly, groups of 4 or 5 would be asked if they would like to construct mazes with
cardboard and a hot glue gun. These models would be used in subsequent
demonstrations and exercises. Students with pet gerbils, mice or rats would be asked if
they would volunteer their pet to negotiate some of the mazes.
I feel comfortable tinkering in the physical world
as well as working with tech tools to do thought
experiments, concocting scenarios, and playing
“what if”. It’s all water under the creative
Field Trip: We have a large cornfield maze in our town, and a field trip would be a reward
for the class later in the year. Corn is harvested, beginning in November, in this area.
ANSWER: Puce and Taupe Puce is the French word for FLEA, The color is said to be the
color of the bloodstains remaining on linen or bedsheets, even after being laundered,
from a flea's droppings or after a flea has been crushed. Taupe takes it’s name from the
French word for MOLE. Really.
Figure 5Hot glue gun and cardboard