12481 ED: Design Playshop: Expanding Making with Squishy Circuits

06/13/2015 @ 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Orpheum A

Organizers: Anna Keune, Naomi Thompson, Verily Tan,
Presenters: Anna Keune, Naomi Thompson, Verily Tan, Karen Wohlwend, AnnMarie Thomas

Intended Audience:

Aimed toward educators (preschool, elementary, museum, library) and researchers interested in equitable curricular approaches for inclusive orientations to making, this workshop offers a space for conversation and hands-on experience with innovative maker materials.

About the Workshop:

As making is moving into school learning settings, the need to find ways to mediate the playful and discovery rich qualities of informal and interest-driven making is increasing. Through a qualitative research study in a Midwestern preschool, we invited 3- to 5-year old children to play, experiment, craft and collaborate with Squishy Circuits (Johnson & Thomas, 2010), an electronics toolkit that uses playdough as conductive material and is steadily becoming a staple tool in makerspaces across this country. Building on emerging practices of the children and prior literature (see e.g., Wohlwend, 2013), we developed the Design Playshop Model (DPM), a quadrant model that expands Design and Technology(Circuitry) to include Play and Collaboration in makerspace learning. The model can guide educators in selecting mediation strategies to support children to engage across quadrants towards sustained engagement, elaborate project outcomes and a diverse range of orientations.

Enacting the power of exploration as an entry point, we are inviting participants to join this interactive workshop and to explore mediation strategies across quadrants. We will introduce the Design Playshop Model and our experience in engaging children across quadrants. Working in small groups, we will ask participants to engage with and explore the Squishy Circuits toolkit, offering a diverse range of crafting materials, electronic supplies and playful toys. The activity will help illustrate how people engage with the four quadrants differently. We will then present salient vignettes of children who practiced making across quadrants and invite the workshop participants to consider mediation strategies for educators to broaden the participation. Relating their ideas to the DPM quadrants, circuitry, play, craft and collaboration, the participants will brainstorm mediation strategies on worksheets with the DPM quadrants. To prepare for an interactive discussion among groups, the groups will exchange worksheets to compare and share thoughts. In closing, we will allow participants to reflect, followed by sharing our research findings as a powerful way to connect to participants’ own discoveries.

DPM is relevant to the Equity by Design theme as our workshop is an exploration of equitable pathways into making. New materials, coupled with the privileging of various modes of interaction, can invite broader audiences into the realm of circuitry, and by extension, other areas like computing and digital media. DPM as a framework offers new expansive views of engagement by exploring how mediating play, craft, circuitry, and collaboration in making can produce elaborated outcomes in learners’ propensity and ability to interact with technological and design oriented tools. We look forward to growing from the insight of our colleagues as we move forward on this work and consider the DPM outside and beyond the Squishy Circuits toolkit.

Wohlwend, K. E., Buchholz, B. A., Wessel-Powell, C., Coggin, L. S., & Husbye, N. E. (2013). Literacy playshop: New literacies, popular media, and play in the early childhood classroom. New York: Teachers College Press.

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