Luisa Beck spent many weeks in the Tinkering Studio, observing and recording the sounds of visitors engaged in making Chain Reactions, asking questions and getting to know the visitors, in order to create the audio piece we shared earlier. During that time, a theme started to emerge: she noticed that a common cognitive leap in construction happens when the concept of a switch is introduced.
A switch is a simple concept if you've already mastered it and wrapped your head around it, but tackling that first leap from a circuit that is always connected and running, to one where you control the conditions and timing of when it turns on, is a big challenge even for adults, let alone children. There are many ways to approach introducing the idea of what a switch is and how to make one, and we try them all as facilitators. But one of the qualities we always strive for is creating a switch as a meaningful answer to a problem, a means to an end, rather than just a way to recreate a model we have presented to them. We know that we are successful when we start seeing variations in the kinds of switches that are built, and the ways in which they are used.
Luisa picked up on this element of our practice, and started collecting instances in which kids made different types of switches, and recording little snippets of their own words about them. She felt that it was important, in order to share this piece, to have a visual anchor rather than rely on sound alone, so she created a mosaic of brief audiovisual slideshows that really convey the breadth and depth of the explorations that happen in the Tinkering Studio.
You can check it out here.