On August 9, I had the delightful honor of presenting to a group of young ladies (14-15 years old) who are participating in the GOALS for Girls program housed at the Intrepid Museum. A big part of this program is to bring field experts and mentors in to speak to the girls about different disciplines in STEM and their real world applications. I developed this one hour workshop as an introduction and overview to a practice that weaves many different disciplines together and, as a result, has not quite solidified it’s identity. In fact, this is one reason I find the field so compelling. Practitioners can draw fluidly from different the processes, materials, and toolsets of a range of disciplines: electronics, fiber arts, textile and surface design, programming, craft, fashion, and more. The implications of this hybridity are at once complex and simple, nuanced and obvious. It raises questions about our relationship to technology and the interfaces we use to exchange information with the world around us.
1) What’s in a name? Defining the practice. (15 minutes)
- As a large group, create definitions for the words “technology” and “electronic”.
- Divide participants into four groups. Give each group one word:
- fashion ~ wearable ~ textile ~ craft
- Give them 3 minutes to come up with a definition for their word. Share out.
- Next, each group come up with a new definition based on their word:
- fashion technology
- wearable technology
- electronic textiles
- electronic craft
- Share out and discuss.
- Questions: How are they all the same? How are they different? Which are you familiar with? What terms have you never heard before?
- Present other terms: soft circuits, smart materials. Diagram them on a large space and ask participants to hypothesize how they all relate to each other.
- Explain how the new availability of materials and rise of DIY, open source culture has allowed for the field to grow.
- Discuss the idea of a hybrid practice.
2) Which came first? Timeline exercise. (30 minutes)
- Part 1: Small groups
- Ask participants to put all digital devices away. No cheating!
- Create as many teams as you have card piles.
- Give each team a card pile. Tell them to choose 10 projects and arrange them in chronological order.
They have 10 minutes.
- Part 2: Combine forces
- As a large group, participants have 15 minutes to correctly order all of the projects they chose into one large timeline.
- Part 3: The big reveal + discussion
- Briefly explain each project, then discuss with participants. What surprised them? What was unexpected? What was their methodology? How did they approach the problem?
3) Q + A *or* personal work shareout (10 minutes)