Earlier this summer, a coworker sent around this Facebook video. It’s a pretty absurd looking scene; the video shows a gaggle of kids rolling each other around in a giant barrel. Simultaneously, the barrel prints stamp shapes onto a huge sheet of paper on the ground. As my deskmate and I watched the video, people stopped by to smile and laugh at the goofiness happening on screen. I bet you a million dollars that most people were thinking, “Oh how cute… but it’s just one of those things that could only happen on YouTube.”
But what does a Maker Mind think when it encounters something weird or confusing or downright unexplainable? I can’t speak for all makers, but when my coworker and I saw this video, this is how our Maker Minds worked to turn the Facebook video into a reality.
- “Yes, and…” For those who aren’t familiar with this phrase, “Yes, and” is a famous approach to improv comedy. It means that you are accepting your teammate’s creation and you adding your own ideas to move the scene forward. I think it applies pretty well to making too. A Maker Mind sees a situation, accepts the challenge (‘yes’) and moves it forward with their own questions, ideas, and approaches (‘and…’). In the case of the Human Printing Press, our Maker Minds said, “Yes! This is something we can do! And here’s how we’re going to do it…”
- Breaking it down. To make the project more manageable, we broke it down into smaller parts. We watched the video a few more times in order to generate a materials list and focused on acquiring the individual pieces before assembling the whole creation.
- Recycling. I love that the Maker Movement focuses on reuse and creation instead of just consuming. As such, my Maker Mind prioritizes reducing my environmental impact when I’m doing a project. So, when hunting for materials for this human printing press, we looked close by instead of purchasing new stuff. We found an old recycling bin (ironically enough) to use for the tube and some pool noodles leftover from an old project. Furthermore, we found some scraps of paper that we pieced together for our printing surface.
- Prototyping. Odds are, when you create something you’ve never seen in person before, you’re probably not going to make it perfectly the first time. And that’s okay! It always helps to test out your project before you put it on display. We learned a few lessons while prototyping our project: Mod Podge will NOT attach pool noodles to cardboard and not all pool noodles will print equally.
- Accessibility. Since we would be rolling out this project (pun intended), at Boston Children’s Museum, we had to make sure that it was accessible to as many Mini Makers as possible. We recognized that not everyone is willing and able to roll around in our human printing press. For our littlest visitors (0-3), we set out paints and brushes so that they could paint the tube if they wanted, or just do finger painting! In addition, we set out some more pool noodle pieces that they could stamp with. These adaptations also work well for visitors with a range of abilities. The sensory experience of painting is great no matter what tools you use. We encouraged visitors to help us roll the tube and invited some fearless visitors (and grownups!) to test out rolling in it themselves.
We had a great experience creating this project and we’re pretty sure our visitors loved it too. Rising to the challenge provided great exercise for our Maker Minds. We’re grateful to be part of a community that promotes exploration, inquiry, and saying “YES!”. We hope you will join us at the second annual Boston Mini Maker Faire on September 17 as we test this project out once again.