哈佛中国教育论坛常规活动:电子纸艺创意工坊

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当科学遇见艺术

日常DIY必备的手工纸艺与繁复难懂的电路设计似乎是一条线的两个端点,前者材料朴实,平易近人,后者高贵冷艳,虽然有无限的设计潜力,但在物理课堂里总让很多学生头疼。然而当令人发怵的电子科技和随处可见的纸质艺术在教室里结合,会碰撞出怎样出人意料的结果?11月19日,麻省理工建筑与设计学院媒体实验室(MIT Media Lab)博士生齐诘在哈佛教育学院(Harvard Graduate School of Education)为三十名学生、家长和孩子带来了别具一格的电子纸艺设计创意工坊。这也是哈佛中国教育论坛本学期的第二次常规活动。

开始动手之前,齐诘首先介绍了她设计纸面电路(paper circuit)的初衷。在她看来,遇到新鲜知识时,人除了会有好奇的萌芽,还会因陌生而胆怯,因胆怯而退却。她因此希望利用日常生活中随处可见的材料,在自然放松的学习环境中引导学生学习不熟悉的知识。

基于这样的认识,齐诘在MIT媒体实验室启动了“趣味电路贴纸”项目。她将导电的铜做成双面胶一般的细长贴纸,在纽扣大小的贴纸上粘上LED灯泡,在不断试错和实验后生产出一套纸面电路材料,并配有纸质和视频教程,可供教学或者自学。这些材料既有纸艺的美与表现力,又带有电路的神奇和互动性,“将电子工程与传统工艺美术相结合,提供了一种表达自我的全新媒介”(chibitronics.com)。齐诘现场展示了一些作品的照片和视频,其中就包括获得MIT视觉艺术施尼策尔奖(Schnitzer Price in Visual Arts at MIT)的互动式蒲公英图,站在一米长的水墨画前对着宣纸吹一口气,就能看到星星点点的蒲公英种子在纸面上亮起来。

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在随后的问答环节中,齐诘与教育学院的学生就材料的大规模生产和可持续性、受众范围、可能的活动展开了讨论。可以看出,许多同学对如何将这些材料运用到教学中有着很大兴趣。

接下来的一个小时,大家动手体验了一番纸面电路的魅力。用电路模版、导电贴纸、LED贴纸、纽扣电池、剪刀、水彩笔和长尾夹这些方便操作的工具和材料,每个人都成功做出了简单的电路回路。从台灯和星星到雪人和水母,每一盏点亮的LED小灯都被赋予了独特的意义。绘制完自己的LED小故事,大家又做起了纸质LED竹蜻蜓,有孩子站到椅子上把做好的竹蜻蜓高高抛起,看着闪着光的白纸旋转着下落,一遍又一遍。“看到学生和大人玩得像个孩子一样,这样的学习体验真是神奇。”一名学生这样说。

对于教育学院的学生来说,这样的经历引发了他们的进一步思考:如何让对很多学生来说有些可怕的知识变得可爱起来?或许科学与艺术的结合正是一种可行的解决方法。

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The Tech and Art of Wonder:

Paper Electronic Maker Workshop

         Last Thursday, thirty students, kids and parents from Boston joined Jie Qi, Ph.D candidate at MIT Media Lab, to explore the power of the familiar and the unfamiliar materials in education. The 90-minute Paper Electronic Maker Workshop was part of a series of events hosted by China Education Symposium at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

In her brief presentation proceeding the hands-on activities, Jie provided an account of her passion for paper electronics and its potential in education. Wonder, she said, entails not only a sense of surprise and curiosity, but also fear and uncertainty. Learners might “run to escape and seek safety” if they are too intimidated by the unfamiliar. With this in mind, she is enthusiastic about the wonderful possibilities of using familiar things in natural settings to teach unfamiliar knowledge, so that the learning process becomes less intimidating and more engaging.

And this is exactly what she has been working on. Currently pursuing her graduate studies in High-Low Tech and Responsive Environments Group at the MIT Media Lab, Jie launched a project called Circuit Stickers, which introduces accessible materials such as copper tape and LED stickers, “blending electronics with traditional arts and crafts media to create personally meaningful technology and new media for self-expression.” She brought some photos and videos of her works, including electronic origami and dandelion interactive painting, and the audience was wowed.

In the Q&A session that followed, students intrigued by this powerful combination of technology and art asked about the availability and accessibility of materials, profile of students who can make use of the materials, and types of activity that these materials can give rise to.

In the second half of the workshop, the audience participated in hands-on circuit making activities: LED drawing and light-up paper helicopter. With easily accessible circuit templates, conductive tapes, LEDs on stickers, a battery, a binder clip, and color-pens, each and every person designed their own piece of interactive art work, learning (or refreshing their memory of) electronics concepts while expressing themselves in creative and meaningful ways.

“It is amazing how kids and adults alike enjoyed this kind of creative learning process,” said one of the students.

In particular, HGSE students were inspired to think about new ways to make learning more accessible, meaningful and fun for learners of all ages. A HGSE student remarked that these materials can be easily used in teacher-facilitated activities (Jie offered some help during the workshop) as well as student activities (some children are too eager to wait for step-by-step guidance and started exploring on themselves). The combination of art and technology opens up opportunities for learners to experiment, explore and express themselves.

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