Oxford Literacy Network - Learning Words that Affect Flight

This summer I was asked to provide some programming for the oxford Literacy Network.  This is a great organization that provides summer activities for kids in our community.  They host programs in three different sites around the area for kids K-5.  They program for 2 weeks in the summer, serving breakfast, helping kids select books at their reading level each day, and providing some sort of interactive program each day.  For a couple of those days I was that programming.  I wanted something the kids could make and take with them, learn a little about STEAM, and learn a couple new words.  I decided to go back to a tried and true friend, the hand helicopter.  These are fairly quick, easy, and inexpensive to make as well as being customizable. When we were preparing to make these with kids at Cincinnati Mini Maker Faire a couple years ago we invested in a number of lunch trays and laminated templates kids could use as guides for all the parts they needed to cut.  

The trays are great for gathering and keeping track of supplies.  We tape the templates to the trays and set up little assembly lines of supplies.  Due to the young age of the children and the short time window I decided it would be best if I manned the hot glue guns for the day.  The kids could measure and cut all of their parts and then personalize them while waiting for my rapid-fire glueing.

It is easy for me to take pictures before and after activities but it is a challenge when I have a line of kids wanting hot glue to pause and take pictures, so you will have to imagine that part of the day.  

Our two words for the day that we learned together were CONVEX and CONCAVE.  When we make the hand helicopters the propellers are made from large craft sticks, otherwise known as tongue depressors.  These light pieces of wood almost always have a natural curvature to them.  I explained the Bernoulli principle in the most painless way possible with a quick illustration on my portable whiteboard.  I drew a basic cross-section of a wing - flat on the bottom, curved on the top- with arrows indicating airflow.  I explained that the air that is split by the wing has to meet up at the back side of the wing at the same time.  Given that the air traveling over the top curved part of the wing has to travel further it must travel faster.  That faster speed results in lower pressure.  The slower travel across the bottom provides higher pressure.  We at MAKETANK remember this as, "High velocity, low pressure is my gift. Low velocity, high pressure gives me lift". It makes sense to us.

So, as the kids select their craft sticks to be their propellers they want to determine which side of the stick is convex - domed like the top of the wing- versus concave - scooped out like a cave.  This way they can be sure to have the convex side on the top side of their helicopter and achieve greater lift with their toy. The kids seemed to get the idea, learn their words, and enjoyed making the copters.  I did this project one day a week at different locations and each day was nice enough that we could go outside and give them a whirl!

Last Day of STEAM Club - Kites But No Wind

We had such a great time building kites with our STEAM Club in 2015, we then went on to make them with families at Miami University's Alumni College and with conference attendees at University of Texas - Austin's UTeach conference.  So for this year's last meeting of STEAM Club we wanted to make our favorite tetrahedral and box kites with the kids.  

The good news is that kite building is not weather dependent, flying kites on the other hand is a little more fussy.  These are great kites and great kids and they gave it their all, but there was just no wind for our big last day.  

You can find step-by-step instructions for building the tetrahedral kites on the "Killer Kites" page on this site. Do make your own, they are easy and fun and offer tons of platforms for exploring geometry and flight dynamics.

In a fair wind these kites fly like a dream.  In no wind conditions you have to run like the dickens! We have had a great year with the kids in our Talawanda Middle School STEAM Club.  It has been a joy to get to know them and hear all of their great ideas about building and making and exploring the world.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters Stop Motion

At the conclusion of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters project we decided to make one shareable video with each big and little pair discussing their stop motion project, followed by a sample of their film.   We were able to play this at the festival on an outdoor screen and now it is always viewable on youtube as well as here on our site.

STEAM Club Rube Goldberg at the Kinetics Festival

I did a terrible job of photographing the last few weeks of Rube Goldberg and Simple Machine explorations at STEAM Club.  We dedicated the last meeting or two to figuring out how all of the components were going to link together.  As always seems to be the case, things magically came together in the end.

We were prepared to use a lot of ramps and lift to make the connections but after seeing what everyone had come up with individually or in their teams they came together with very little manipulation from us.  The kids were able to make minor modifications to their contraptions to get them to fit and we had a couple perfect test runs early on the day of the festival.  One thing about making Rube Goldberg that will be moved and set up somewhere else is that environmental factors can wreck havoc on your carefully laid out plans.  As a result we had the final set-up inside Millett Hall where the festival is held, most other activities for the day are outside, weather permitting.  The floors at Millett were similar to the hallways at the middle school so we didn't have much trouble there.

Our fabulous student, Julia, had been diligently testing and prototyping sections of her component for several weeks at STEAM Club, but no one had ever seen the finished product,  She assured me it was too large and complicated to bring into school.  Julia is always incredibly reliable and dedicated so I had no misgivings about her showing up with anything less than a stellar component of our mechanism.  

Since we couldn't practice with her section we decided her's would be the start of the chain reaction, I felt confident in her saying the golf ball would exit her section at the correct height with enough velocity to continue on.  All of the kids from the club were excited to finally see all of her hard work at home come to fruition at the festival.  She truly out did herself, with peripheral reactions that spelled out her name with homemade dominoes!

We had a good crowd for the final performance with just one or two hinks along the way. There were high school physics students and instructors there that had been working on some similar pursuits in class and they were truly impressed with the work our students had come up with in their after school investigations.

The 2016 Oxford Kinetics Festival

I am not going to write too much here about the festival.  It has its own website at www.oxfordkineticsfestival.org so you can read more about it there. I will share that it was a wonderful day and great fun for us to see so many kids we have worked with through the year learning new skills and sharing what they have made with the community.

A fabulous wooden bike entry in this year's Dogs' Breakfast race.

A fabulous wooden bike entry in this year's Dogs' Breakfast race.

We are always thrilled to see the things people have been working on in their garages and workshops through the year that they bring to the festival.  The human imagination is boundless and the more we share skills with each other the broader our creative horizons become.

We planned the challenges for the Scramble and many of the workshops and skill-sharing activities to fit with the Circus Fracas theme.  It turned out that one of my husband's graduate students has incredible circus related skills.  Sarah is a skilled unicyclist and juggler.  She agreed to spend much of her day teaching festival goers how to make their own juggling balls and juggle them.

After spending some time looking at the posters and exhibit line-ups for old circuses we were drawn to several silly ideas that evolved into Scramble stations.  The Scramble is the kinetic sculpture race for kids under 16 and family teams.  There are a number of stations along the course where participants have to complete challenges. This year folks had to box a bear and shoot small stuffed animals through flaming hoops to hit various ferocious animals among other tasks.

If you look closely you can see the tiny animal projectile passing through the flaming hoop. We were amazed how accurate the makeshift cannon turned out to be, maybe we should have pursued our initial human-cannonball idea after all.

If you look closely you can see the tiny animal projectile passing through the flaming hoop. We were amazed how accurate the makeshift cannon turned out to be, maybe we should have pursued our initial human-cannonball idea after all.

Christopher, our bear, was such a sport to be in that hot suit on a warm spring day, letting children punch him with surprising vigor.

Christopher, our bear, was such a sport to be in that hot suit on a warm spring day, letting children punch him with surprising vigor.

Pedal Punk

For this year's Kinetics Festival we went with a circus theme, "Circus Fracas".  Miami University's Performing Arts Series brought in Cirque Mechanics to perform their Pedal Punk show the Wednesday prior to the festival so we were able to do a variety of cross promotions.  One of my favorite things we did was arrange a workshop for all of the STEAM Club kids as well as interested engineering students from the middle school and high school with some of the performers and makers from Cirque Mechanics.  

The folks from Cirque Mechanics put on amazing performances using mechanism they have created and built which all are related to bicycles.  They are engaging performers who are excited to share their enthusiasm for creating and performing with everyone they meet.  The students had a great time learning about what they do and getting up close and personal with their amazing contraptions. We were pleased and proud of the probing questions our kids had about how the mechanisms worked.  We enjoyed learning about their iterative design process and the input from engineers and performers in coming up with final designs that met everyone's needs. Later that night a number of the students and their families were able to attend the performance.  It was great to see everyone we had spent the afternoon hanging out with at the high school in action on stage.

Bag O' Chips

So much of the work we have been doing at the Changing Lives house has focused on the pickle bike that the chip bike has been a little neglected. Last week we did get the design sketched out on the fabric with the help of the boys but when it came time to start to build the frame for the chip bag onto the bike we realized it is too big to fit in the garage of the house. So, we are having to make some mid-stream changes.  

We will have to build the Conestoga Wagon-style frame at the sculpture studio and then fit the fabric over it there.  We have also realized we are going to have to rent a moving truck in order to get the bikes to downtown Cincinnati for the Opening Day Parade and then back up to Oxford for the festival. Initially I think we just assumed our regular contingent of pick-up trucks could fill the bill.

We were excited that the fabric remained nicely see-through from the driver's seat, and there is room in the back for a passenger.  Another concern with both of these builds has been to maintain steer-ability, this has required modifications along the way based on the different steering mechanisms on each bike but seems to have been adequately accommodated. We want the boys to have a good, safe, frustration-free time in the parade!

At Long Last - Tape on the Pickle

The day finally arrived that we could start applying duct tape to the pickle bike.  All the infrastructure building was finally going to pay off with some form and color and pickleness! I ordered a couple different shades of green duct in fairly large quantities and we set to work.

As is so often the case with trying something for the first time, we encountered more thoughts we had that turned out to be wrong and issues we failed to foresee.  Key take home point of the day: Duct tape is heavy. We had originally planned to cover this thing in duct tape both outside and in.  Shortly into the tape application it became clear that this wasn't going to happen.  For one, the ends of the pickle were pretty much impossible to reach from the inside, but most importantly, this tape is heavy.  Remember, this whole pickle structure is just being held onto the bike by our bike spikes, 1/2" cpvc, and hose clamps.  The weight of the tape threatened to overwhelm those connections and warped and distorted some of the less well-reinforced sections of the design.  There was a bit of slooping and drooping that needed to be addressed as the build continued, but some binding wire and yes, duct tape, properly applied seemed to do the trick.

We cut a variety of sizes of styrofoam balls (leftover from last year's Space Quest project with Big Brothers and Big Sisters) in half and applied these for authentic looking pickley bumps. This pickle is really coming together!

We'd Better Get Started Working on that Bag of Chips!

As we merrily went along building the pickle bike with great elán, it dawned on us that we had better start working on the bag of chips as well. We had an idea for a bag on it's side that would pretty well envelope a four-wheeled bike, but that necessitated that the material something the rider could see through to avoid unintended disaster on the parade route.  After consulting some friends in the theater department specializing in set design and puppetry we settled on athletic fabric.  This is the material basketball shorts are made out of, it is thin nylon with lots of tiny holes. It is strong and will take paint but still remain see through.  I was able to find some after checking with a couple of fabric stores and Rod's amazing wife Christina sewed a few pieces together to make one giant sheet we could fold in half.  

Grippo's is a locally produced brand of potato chips here in Cincinnati and the boys absolutely love them.  In order to get an accurate rendering of the bag Rod hung the fabric and then projected an image of the bag onto the wall in the boys' basement.  Then they traced the outlines of the image using sharpies.  Later we painted it using acrylic house paint from the hardware store. We had kids who hadn't been that excited about working on the pickle bike who really wanted to jump in at this point where things seemed more to their traditional way of thinking about art-making.

Chicken Wire on the Pickle Bike

With the cpvc infrastructure in place it was time to apply chicken wire.  Ultimately this bike will be skinned with duct tape but it needs something to flesh out the areas between the cpvc to give it proper shape.  This is pokey business, the ends of chicken wire have an uncanny ability to jab into finger tips no matter how careful you are.  We were lucky to have another nice day so we worked out in the driveway again.

One of the positive results of Rod having raised pigs in Texas in his youth is his knowledge of hog nose rings.  They have a million used besides their intended purpose of going in hogs' noses to keep them from opening gates and getting into various other kinds of trouble with their noses. These rings come in very handy for lots of building and construction projects.  We used them last year at the Contemporary Art Center project building personal flight devices to attach strapping to cardboard.  Today we used them to attach the chicken wire to the cpvc.  Hog nose rings are sort of a triangle shape with an opening along one side.  Each end is extremely sharp and piercing.  You use special hog nose ring pliers to then squeeze the triangle ring closed, permanently connecting whatever is in it's grasp.  You can find these items at large farm supply retailers, or of course, on Amazon.

The more that his thing actually looks like a giant pickle the more enthusiastic the kids get about working on it.

STEAM Club Update - Simple Machines

As things got busier with the schedule leading up to the festival I am embarrassed to admit I really slacked off about taking pictures, especially at STEAM Club.  So, I can talk a bit about what we were doing and our experiences during this time but without the aid of delightful images.  Kids broke into teams to work on their Rube Goldberg components with just a few deciding to work on their own.  At the beginning of the club each week we would watch a video or two of some amazing Rube Goldberg mechanisms people have made in the world.  Everyone has their favorite but I love the Japanese ones which are part of a television program that has been airing for more than 10 years.  It is called Pitagora Suichi which translates to Pythagora Switch.  They have delightfully ingenious mechanisms all performed to their theme music.  It can really get lodged in your brain.  I highly recommend checking them out. You can find a variety of examples of their work on-line, here is a link to one to start out on: Pitagora Suichi 

I asked Alex and Colin, our stalwart math education graduate students (who both handily have undergraduate degrees in engineering) to introduce to the idea of a different simple machine each week for the next few weeks.  This was in the hope of offering some structural guidance to the explorations taking place in the groups.  Everyone was having a delightful time sending things down various ramps and what not but most were failing to tackle the challenge of how to make the ball rise on the vertical plane through their contraption - remember it has to start at 2" above ground and leave at 6" above ground.

The first simple machine was the inclined plane and various ways it could be used and we set out to find ways to make our golf ball go up an inclined plane instead of down.

Pickle Bike Infrastructure Build Continues

We needed another day to finish up building the basic infrastructure of the pickle bike.  The youngest boy at the house is twelve and he was delighted to be put in charge of running the drills.  Once we had the main pipes attached to the bike we cross-hatched a number of split pieces which were then screwed to each other for structural support.  Prior to screwing the pieces in place we held them with thin strips of duct tape so we could make adjustments if needed.  And yes, they were needed.

The decision was also made to put a small seat on the back of the bike so that a passenger could ride along on the pickle bike.  This addition will necessitate a small rear pickle window so that the passenger can see out and enjoy the parade as well.

It was a nice day so we decided it was a good idea at this point to take the bike outside and make sure it could still be steered and pedaled with the new additions.  

Issues like how to get in and out of the structure reared their head today.  We decided a large oval opening on the side was the best option - an opening which may or may not be covered by some sort of door int he final product.  There's a bit of contortion involved in getting in and on the bike but nothing too taxing.

Today some of the folks who were having trouble envisioning what we were working toward said, "Oh, I see it now."

Shooting Images - Stop Motion Mania

This is going to be a picture laden post because I love the images of the kids actively shooting the pictures for their movies.  I think they really capture process and it gives you a good idea of the different approaches and personalities of the projects.

This is another place where I can point out something I did with this project that I will do differently the next time I do stop motion with a group of kids.  I thought it would be a good idea to have a dry run day of using their characters and sets to shoot some images and get a feel for the process, then start over the following week with the beginning of the actual shooting schedule.  No matter how well I storyboard and plan, whenever I make stop motion on my own I realize a million things I would like to do differently once I get started. I hoped this dress rehearsal shooting day would allow them to identify some gaps in their existing sets and characters or story lines.

As I should have foreseen the kids were not interested in discarding their work from the first day and starting over.  They felt good about what they had shot and some declared they were finished, others wanted to keep shooting next week from where they had left off, and still others decided to make a whole other movie the next week with new topics of focus.

This was another instance where I decided to embrace where they were and how they wanted to proceed.  There is a certain improv quality about this work - the "yes, and" response is important to embrace.  But I do take note of these times and think hard about how to structure things differently in the future.

Next time I think I will bring in some items we can use as characters, props, and sets (legos and play mobile items from my attic work well for this).  On the first day or two of meeting we will look at some examples of stop motion, learn to use the free software, and then shoot some quick, preliminary films with the supplied materials.  I think this will allow kids to get a feel for the medium and make better, more informed design choices but in a way that they are not so attached to the outcome and it is clear this is just a preliminary exercise.  Live and learn.

One nuts and bolts item to note about these shooting set-ups.  It is important for continuity that the camera (tablet) and set stay in the same position throughout.  Once the spacing of the components is settled upon I just have the kids use masking tape to mark the corners of all items so when they inevitable get bumped they can be quickly and accurately repositioned. The school's ipads are in awesome carrying case that keep them safe from drops but also have a built in handle that also serves as a stand.  This was really helpful!  I did not know this would be the case so I made very simple stands for the ipads from pieces of 2" x 4" with a groove routed out as you can see in the above photo. This team was using my personal ipad that does not have the great case with handle so they were the only ones who ended up needing my simple stand. I took the rest of them to STEAM Club to use in the Rube Goldberg project.

Public Amateurs - Encouraging Risk-Taking by Example

I want to take a minute to talk about Rod and I positioning ourselves as public amateurs and our desire to encourage creative and academic risk-taking in the kids we work with.  We believe that one of the greatest things we can model for kids is creative risk-taking.  By going through the world as public amateurs we try to set an example of taking on projects you may not seem to be qualified for, or know you will have success with.  We strive to incorporate science, engineering, and math learning into our projects but we are both sculptors.  We seek out professionals and experts in these fields to teach us what we don't know and then set out to try to make a vision we had come to life.  We come up with project ideas and then use our existing knowledge and input from others to take the best shot at it but by no means do we know we will succeed.

The day we got the basic infrastructure built on the pickle bike Rod and I looked at each other and said, "This just might work!" One of the boys looked at us in astonishment and said, "You mean you've never done this before?"  We said, "No, who in the world has ever built a 12' long pickle bike? But we are pretty good at trouble shooting and we figured we could figure out a way to make it work."  

We strongly believe that it is important kids see us as adults being willing to say we are not experts at something but we are willing to public try and risk failure to do something we believe could be awesome. This kind of risk-taking is how kids can develop creative confidence.  Practicing this creative and academic risk-taking can foster innovative thinking in kids and allow them to find creative expression and joy in STEAM creativity.

The Beginnings of a Pickle Bike

This week we started building the infrastructure of the pickle bike.  We like to use cpvc pipes to build structures around bikes.  A few years ago we came up with a device we call a bike spike to facilitate attaching  1/2" cpvc pipes to the frames of bicycles.  Bike spikes have a tapered spike attached to a piece of curved metal.  We attach the spike to various parts of a bike using zip-ties to start.  Once we are certain of placement we use hose clamps for a stronger attachment.

Once the spike is on the bike you can jam a piece of cpvc on and bend and curve that to wherever you need it.  For some of the ribs of the bike it was easier to split the pipes and have a much bendier but less hearty building material. For some of the design we needed to heat sections of the cpvc with a heat gun so it could be bent to a specific angle.  These bends are awesome but it does make the material a bit more brittle so we do worry about too much strain on those points leading to breakage. Since it was still pretty cold outside we did the majority of this build in the basement of one of Changing Lives' houses and were able to store it in their garage.

BB/BS Making Movie Sets and Backgrounds

By this week everyone in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters after school group had committed to a topic for their stop motion animation film and were hard at work making the characters and backgrounds.  When I envisioned this project and presented the idea of things that occur cyclically in nature I had certain images in mind. The kids on the other hand, heard nature, interpreted that as animals(!) and went to town.

This pair set to work making the same setting in different seasons.

This pair set to work making the same setting in different seasons.

Int he initial planning of this project I imagined we would have a variety of set-ups with digital cameras on tripods and controlled lighting situations - this is the manner in which I have always made stop motion films.  Thankfully before we got started I realized there is a wonderful stop motion app available that radically simplifies the process.  I knew that the school district where we meet is going to a 1:1 policy in all grades and that they had ipads for all K-2 students that stay at the school each evening.  The school principal generously agreed to let us use a number of these ipads for the duration of the project.  Once we tallied who was working independently and who was teamed with another pair we realized we would need 12 ipads.  I uploaded the free version of the app onto the ipads and demonstrated the process for the group.

I then made a series of small whiteboard boxes that the kids could use for the background of their film.  I got a large 4' x 8' sheet of melamine which acts like a whiteboard.  We cut this down to pieces that were about 18" x 24" and made 2" x 4" frames for them to sit in.  This allowed each kid to have a free-standing background to work with that they could draw on with dry erase markers or attach various components using tape or sticky tack.

It was delightful how deeply the kids dove into making their backgrounds and characters!

Future bunny olympians.

Future bunny olympians.

STEAM Club, meet Rube Goldberg

Our big STEAM Club project for the Kinetics Festival this year is going to be a large Rube Goldberg concoction.  Inspired by Arthur Ganson's group Rube Goldberg each year around Thanksgiving at MIT, we wanted each kid, or small group of kids to create a small Rube Goldberg contraption that could be combined with all the others to make one large piece. We asked that each section be made to assume a golf ball would enter the scenario at 2 inches off of  ground level and leave at 6 inches from ground level.  This would ensure that everyone was making contraptions that were not just a series of fun ramps but were actually moving a ball upward along the way.  This would also allow us to connect the different sections with some gravity assist from a ball going from 6" to 2" to get each piece started off on its best foot. I brought in a bizarre selection of baubs and bits for the kids to start experimenting with.  This first day I brought lots of dominos and my sons extensive collection of Quadrilla marble runs so we could just in general explore chain reactions.

Changing Lives - Kinetic Sculptures

As I try to get caught up on this blog I realize why I was not able to keep it up to date at the time. In addition to after school STEAM Club and the Big Brothers and Big Sisters project we were also running this great project with some of the boys at Changing Lives Youth Services.  Changing Lives is  a group home in Cincinnati that we have worked with in the past but it had been a couple of years since we had been there and so it was a whole new group of boys.

in 2015 we were invited to be in the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day parade with a hacker group called Hive13.  The opening day parade in Cincinnati is an institution - going 97 years - winding through almost 2 miles downtown starting at the historic Findlay Market, it regularly draws over 250,000 people.  We had such a great experience being in the parade that we immediately thought we wanted to share the experience the following year with the boys at Changing Lives.

I applied to Artswave for funding for the project, started planning dates and times that would work for everyone's schedule, and submitted an application to be in the parade.  The parade is hosted by Findlay Market Merchants' Organization so entries must be about Cincinnati, the Reds, or Findlay Market.  We were on a bit of a tight schedule based so we only had one day for brainstorming ideas with the group.  In hindsight we should have had a project day first when we could have worked on something not too complicated that allowed us all to get to know each other a bit before introducing the large project and trying to generate ideas.  Free flowing idea generation happens best in situations of trust and we did not take the time we should have to create that trust environment before asking kids to throw out unusual and creative ideas.  We ended up coming up with a couple good project ideas regardless of this failing on our part and forged ahead with design strategies.

Our goal was to build two large rideable sculptures for the parade that could also then have a presence at the Oxford Kinetics Festival.  We had two Worksman industrial bikes to use as the basis for the builds.  Worksman makes heavy-duty tricycles and four-wheeled bikes for use in industry (hauling heavy equipment in factories, etc.) and they are great for building.  In discussing what everyone liked best about Cincinnati and Findlay Market we ended up landing on Grippo's Bar-b-que potato chips and the dill pickles they sell at the market, so that is what we settled on.  We decided to start with the pickle and then move on to the bag of chips later.

We brought in a variety of materials and some small models of the tricycle to start working on some models to guide the big build.

Once we had a good model for the pickle bike we felt confident to acquire the materials we would need to execute the build which we would start the following week.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters 2016 Project - We Make Things Move - Stop Motion Animation

One of the things I most look forward to in the late winter is starting a project with the kids at Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Butler County.  Big and Little pairs meet at the elementary school just around the corner from my house one day each week after school throughout the school year.  In this instance all of the "Bigs" are Miami University students.  The "Littles" range in age from kindergarten through 5th grade.  The first year I worked with this group they wrote and created an original shadow puppet play loosely based on Peter Pan.  Someday I will try to write a post about that project, it was great! Last year was Space Quest, when we created our own solar system.  This year I wanted to explore stop motion animation.  I really enjoy working in stop motion animation and new apps have really simplified the process.  We always do a project with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters kids and then have them share their work with the community at the Kinetics Festival.  The Festival is on a Sunday afternoon and sometimes a number of the kids cannot get there which makes me sad. I thought is we made stop motion animation videos we could show the videos at the festival and then if they were not able to be there they could still share their work. My plan was to make videos about things that occur cyclically in nature so that the videos could be loops.  If you have ever made stop motion videos you know that it takes a lot of work to get a short piece of video, so looping seemed like the way to go.  As ever, my plan and what actually took place were a bit askew, but it was a great project regardless.

We started out just showing some examples of stop motion using various materials and techniques.  My delightful friend Kelsey Kirkpatrick came in town once a week for this semester to help out with STEAM Club and the BB/BS project.  She was an invaluable resource, I don't know what I would have done without her.  The first day, after showing some cool but not intimidatingly cool examples of what other people have done, Kelsey and I made a crazily rapid-fire little video so the kids could get an idea of how we would be working.  

After some time to talk we went around to see who wanted to work in a team with another big/little pair and who would be working independently, and if anyone had any initial ideas of what they wanted to do.  Much to my amazement all most every kid already had in mind what they wanted their film to be about.  

I had given a few examples - I was thinking about things like the life cycle of a butterfly, the water cycle, maybe the life of a fruit tree.  They had very definitive ideas which were not exactly as strictly about cyclical events in nature but I was thrilled they were so gung-ho with their plans and embraced whatever they felt driven to pursue.

We finished up the day exploring the idea of making a two or three dimensional representation of a character for their film. It is great working with BB/BS because each kid has a helper to work with them on their project.  There was some concern when we first started working with the on group projects because the aim of their organization is to strengthen the bond between the big and little pairs and their was worry that a group project would dilute that experience.  But so far each year we have come up with something that is a group final project but one in which each pair is working on their component together throughout the project and then it all comes together in the end.  It has turned out to be a great dynamic that works out great for all involved.