Last week we kicked off our first Bay Area Maker Educator meetup of the year with a focus on Cranky Contraptions and iteration! We've always been fans of automata and mechanical motions, and have done several variations on this theme over the past 10+ years. Amy and I put together a timeline showing some of the major milestones of how the activity has developed over time. Many people ask us where our activity ideas come from, and reflecting on this history gave us the opportunity to show that many of the new approaches we've tried have been inspired by artist visits, new materials, and even things we saw on Twitter!
For this event we focused on building our most recent iteration of Cranky Contraptions that include popsicle stick linkages and were inspired by our recent visit from Artist in Residence Keith Newstead. This iteration utilizes the crank slider mechanism and a cardboard base that allows for more linked attachment points.
After a brief introduction to materials, the group dove right into designing their cranky contraptions. Some folks started from exploring the mechanism and deciding what to create later, while others had a specific vision in mind and iterated to acheive that goal. For example, Christy was inspired by the idea of a waving heart, and you can see her tweet about it below.
Made my first cranky contraption last night at @TinkeringStudio! Been wanting to make one for a while. Looking forward to future iterations/ideas I now have! #makered #makers @STEAMcentric #crankycontraptions @exploratorium pic.twitter.com/9HVOhX5BAl
— Christy P. Novack (@christypnovack) January 11, 2019
We ended the session with a conversation on what we value about iteration as a process for learning and building, and set goals for ourselves on what we'd like to iterate on in our own practice as educators over the next year. What do you value about iteration? Or do you have a making & tinkering-related goal for the new year? Take the conversation over to Twitter and message @tinkeringstudio to share ideas and insights!