Informal Skills Transfer
While Federal initiatives have made Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math skills a priority in Education for Global Leadership, there is increasing recognition that after school programs, libraries, and maker spaces can play an important role in engaging learners, particularly those from populations who have been traditionally under-represented in STEM fields. My own experience as an African American woman illustrates the importance of this type of informal skills transfer. When I joined Decatur Makers in 2015 hoping to learn how to use 3D printing technology to make puppets, I had spent my academic career in the Humanities and was beginning to define myself as a puppeteer. I had no interest in electronics or computer coding but when another member started teaching me about Arduino microprocessors, I went home and designed my first animatronic puppet – a mother rocking her baby.
The cutting edge animatronic technology Jim Henson pioneered in the 1980s with films like “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth” was complicated and expensive. Today microprocessors (mini-computers) like the Arduino and electronic components like servomotors are inexpensive and easy enough for children and artists to animate any figure they can imagine and build. This two hour workshop presented at the Puppeteers of America 2017 national festival introduced basic animatronics. Participants built simple karakuri-style mechanical puppets, animated them with littleBits circuits, and controlled their movements by modifying computer code for Arduino microprocessors.
Treasures from Trash
In this Skillshare workshop presented at the Lithonia-Davidson library in Lithonia, GA on January 26, 2016, Dr. Paulette Richards demonstrates how she turned plastic bags and water jugs into necklaces during her 2013/2014 Fullbright fellowship in Saint Louis, Senegal.
Episode one of "Playscale Crafting with Limbe Dolls," a series of half hour educational programs that use 1:6 scale craft projects to reinforce basic math concepts as well as problem solving and fine motor skills.