Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Youth art in the Street

The 101/Capitol Expressway-Yerba Buena Rd Interchange Improvements will include these youth designed panels. The next step is to drill holes for the bolts and then they will be powder coated with color. These laser cut sheets of steel will be integrated as decorative panels on pillars at the entry points of the bike and pedestrian freeway overpass at Capitol Expressway. These patterns were created by 6th grade students at Renaissance Academy at Fischer in San Jose, CA. Additional student work will be at the Tully/101 Interchange and will take the form of concrete textured lane dividers.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Early Steps in 3D Printing

3D printed wasp parts
I purchased a used 3D Afinia printer last Wednesday (off of Craigslist) and got it set up yesterday. In January I will be teaching 3D printing workshops at a library in East San Jose and at the Mayfair Community Center using this printer. I am hopeful that these workshops will be the first steps in creating consistent programming and dedicated tinkering spaces. I will also be bringing this printer to the woodshop/science lab at Joseph George Middle School in Alum Rock, San Jose. In all the workshops I will be introducing Tinkercad and SketchUp to students.

It is one thing to design 3D objects in TinkerCad or SketchUp and it is another thing to really design objects for successful 3D printing. As I begin to print objects, I am learning how to modify designs for printing. Above is my first attempt at printing a wasp I designed using Sculptis, Illustrator and Tinkercad. The legs printed much thinner that I expected and the slots for their insertion into the body were too small. I will thicken the legs in TinkerCad and will widen the insertion slots in the body.

Currently we are printing with ABS, but I will be purchasing PLA to use with students. Seeing the amount of material wasted in the rafts and supports, I would prefer the waste to be recyclable.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Student Art on the Street

Two years ago 6th grade students at Renaissance Academy at Fisher in Alum Rock, San Jose explored community identity in patterns. They created radial pattern designs on paper and photographed their community using single use cameras. The photos were used as source images in pattern explorations as the students used the software Repper. The resulting patterns (both paper and digital), along with their written statements, were submitted to the local transit agency (VTA) and to the San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs for review and a handful of the designs were selected to be integrated into the hardscaping of a transit improvement project at Tully and 101.
Below are photos of concrete lane dividers. Large laser cut steel "entry pillars" will also be installed at the entrance of the pedestrian/bike freeway overpass. These pillars also integrate a collection of student designs.
Here are past posts related to this project: test formliners and Student Pattern Reflections on Community and Student Patterns for Freeway. 

Tinkering with LED lights and pipe cleaners

Recently we have been exploring creating simple circuitry tinkering projects. Last week in a 4th grade class we explored a project using pipe cleaners and LED lights. I had initially intended to use electrical wire but thought, why wouldn't colorful pipe cleaners be conductive? After stripping the ends off of two pipe cleaners and testing them out, I realized that they were conductive and the cool thing is that you can keep adding pipe cleaners to the structure and the circuit will not break. Unless you cut off the fuzz, the pipe cleaners stays insulated. In a google search I saw that there were several Instructable projects using pipe cleaners and circuitry: light up necklace and light up ornaments.
It was also cool to find this Stanford graduate project using pipe cleaners in a DIY kit to introduce  high school students to digital electronics: Logic Bites

MATERIALS FOR EACH STUDENT: 2 pipe cleaners with ends stripped of fuzz, five additional pipe cleaners, construction paper, tape, small rubber band, a disc battery (from IKEA store), one LED light with anode and cathode legs curled. Colored pencils optional. (more materials info here)

The simple circuit: two pipe cleaners (with ends stripped of fuzz), one LED light (with legs curled), two paper clips, rubber band and disc battery.
  1. Show samples of Alexander Calder's wire art for inspiration.
  2. Students check that their light works with their battery by having it straddle the battery. Set the battery aside.
  3. Students wrap a  raw wire end of a pipe cleaner to a paper clip. They take their second pipe cleaner and attach a paper clip in the same way. They should have two pipe cleaners, each with a paper clip foot. They should double check that they wrapped the wire tightly around the paper clips and that the wire of the pipe cleaner is touching the wire of the paper clip.
  4. Now for the LED light attachment. The other end of each pipe cleaner is wrapped around one loop of the LED light (the anode and cathode legs need to be curled with pliers to create the loops). The LED light now looks like it has two pipe cleaner legs with paper clip feet.
  5. Students test out the circuit by touching the paper clips at the same time to different sides of the battery. 
  6. At this point they have a working circuit. They attach one paper clip foot to the battery with a rubber band or tape. The other paper clip foot is the on/off switch that they tap against the battery to turn on.
 Students now pick up extra five pipe cleaners and a sheet of paper to turn their circuit into wire art.
 More photos of the student work here: Tinkering with pipe cleaners & LED lights 
LED light on.
The on/off switch

a clown with light up hat, a  student's rabbit with light up nose, and a student's blue tree with light up star on top.
A student's light up flower