I wanted to share one more post about the EU workshop that we led in Milan a few weeks ago. Many times for introductory tinkering workshops our culminating activity is collaborating on a giant chain reaction. Sometimes with this activity we choose a theme that we hope will inspire participants to think about the process of building in interesting ways.
In Milan, we decided to get into the "holiday spirit" and have a special theme. The day before the workshop we wrapped many of our favorite chain reaction elements (pizza face, cowboy boots, severed hand) in festive paper and arranged them in a big pile in the front of the room.
After we explained the general chain reaction prompts and materials we gave the participants one more instruction. They all got to pick one present, find a partner, and then go to a section of the table and open their presents together.
Each group then had to incorporate both presents into their piece of the chain reaction. There were some funny coincidences and other items that seemed oddly pairs. But I liked how the process immediately injected a sense of humor and whimsy to the process and got the team thinking of how to work together to integrate these two strange objects into the reaction.
I thought that the objects also injected enough of a sense of narrative into the machines while allowing people freedom to express their own ideas. This group (who unwrapped the pizza face) created an entire progression of making a pizza, from mixing the dough to flinging the finished pie into a waiting box.
Here's a video of both the building process and the final set off. There were some great contraptions, innovative use of materials and a really great element of story telling and humor. Overall it was a really wonderful experience.
And it was even better to hear that the next week, our friends in milan had already planned a giant chain reaction with their entire staff (about 100 people!) during their annual holiday party. They enjoyed the presents theme so much that they spent the day after the workshop wrapping their elements for their rube goldberg machine!
Here's the video they sent us from the week after the workshop. It was go great to hear the laughter and shouts of joy of all the staff of their museum enjoying the results of their tinkering experience. This workshop made us think again about how the process of building a chain reaction is a great way to bringing people together and gave us even more ideas for our experiments with the activity in the tinkering studio workshop.