Lately in the tinkering studio we have been working to adapt one of our favorite PD workshop activities, Light Play, into a drop-in program in the Tinkering Studio. Light play allows participants to experiment with lights, shadows, patterns, color mixing, filters and other aspects of optics. In a dedicated workshop we have a couple luxuries that aren't possible in an everyday setting on the museum floor. Participants start by experimenting with individual elements like grids or motion, and then spend a long period of time (at least an hour) crafting their own kinetic light vignette. At the end of the building time we place all the creations into a framework to create a giant collaborative art piece.
In the tinkering studio there are the usual things to think about when adapting a workshop activity to the more chaotic setting. People who come to the activity on the floor have different ages and experience levels, they don't stay for the same amount of time, and the facilitation isn't always consistent throughout the each interaction.
In addition to those changes, we've also changed a couple important elements to the set up. First we've made the workspace about half the size so more groups and groups can work at the same time around the table. We tried to make them so that one or two people can comfortably work together.
Also we've adapted the platforms to be easier to connect to power. At the table, they are attached with alligator clips to a 12V transformer which can run multiple lights and motors from two nails. We've also created a new set of high powered LED lights that can be posed in many different directions. This uniformity of the core elements of the activity should hopefully make it easier for participants to explore the phenomenon of light and shadow without spending too much time worrying about complex circuitry.
So far it's been really fun to see visitors of all ages getting engaged with exploring the materials. We were a little uncertain if this more aesthetic and contemplative activity would work as well on the museum floor. But, so far we've been happy to see people really thinking deeply about how to arrange their scenes.
And lastly, one thing that seems to work even better about the activity on the museum floor is the way the artworks are displayed. Nicole converted our old cabinet of curiosity from the PFA to serve as a display case for the collaborative artwork. As visitors cycle through the space, we rotate their creations in and out of the cabinet. Its been a real source of pride for kids to see something that they made prominently displayed in the museum and the collection of scenes always looks especially interesting and beautiful. We'll continue to experiment with the activity and update the blog with our questions, ideas, and tweaks to the activity.