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Maker: The Great Toy Remix

Maker

The Great Toy Remix

Week of 2/23/15

Before we delve into the events that took place on Thursday this week, we ought to recap Tuesday's projects. As a preliminary activity before the main project, the group created geometric shapes with peas and carrots. At least that's what I was expecting them to make. Maybe it was the rush of nutrients their brains were getting -- from the constant healthy snacking -- but the creations ended up going above and beyond. In the past, groups had made 3D shapes with the vegetables and toothpicks. To be fair, it did start out this way but took an unexpected turn when F and E realized they could make a perfectly good campsite with these things. Soon, sleeping bags, totem poles, multi-story duplexes, and portals followed. Here are a few pictures:

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It all began with 1 tent...

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Soon a campsite followed with a central fire pit.

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Meanwhile, a duplex was being constructed right next door.

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The 4-story duplex stands as a beacon of civilization.

After snack, we briefly discussed density and how it's made up of a combination of volume and mass. Using a a quickly sketched diagram of a cat's stomach we divided it down the middle so each side was the same volume. Filling one half with water and the other with cat food, we discussed how it depended on the mass of each to determine which was more dense. To make this concept easier to understand, we created upcycled lava lamps using old plastic bottles. We predicted what would happen as we poured in the oil, water, food dye, and eventually the glitter. Many of us were amazed to see the food dye pass right through the oil intact and join its fellow watery pal on the bottom of the bottle. After adding some alka seltzer tablets, the colored water would bubble up to the top just like a real lava lamp would.

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Over the past week or so I have been collaborating with a student at UArts, Christa Martinez, as she planned to implement her thesis project. The project would be to upcycle old toys and repurpose them in a way that the user thought was appropriate. This gave the child total control over what the toy would look like, and depending on the amount of materials to use, could allow for a wide range of possible outcomes. Christa had been collecting old toys from thrift stores and thanks to several donations from parents and staff, we had an insane amount of toys to use!

Before we got started Christa passed out some pages of a toy catalog to the group. She wanted them to practice visualizing what could be done by piecing together a brand new toy from other toy parts. So we collaged! Then we each took one toy from the pile and began trying to take it apart. Almost every toy was different in how it was constructed. Some were screwed together, others molded, while the softer ones were stitched. Having some practice taking apart different types of toys would make the final step much easier. Afterwards some group members decided to try drawing an instruction manual, indicating how they had taken apart each toy. This step was interesting as it required the young person to visualize individual parts and how they came together to form a whole.

Finally, the gates were open and any and every toy was fair game to be manipulated, mangled, or maneuvered into something new. R. grabbed a screwdriver and began meticulously deconstructing a battery operated toy. E. took a pair of scissors and snipped each individual thread that held bright and colorful nubs on a plush baby toy. F. used a pair of pliers to twist and pry apart an old cell phone. J. and S. used various limbs from Barbie dolls to create their toys. G. worked relentlessly to unscrew, pull, and cut apart an animatronic dog. M. cut open a baby toy to remove a sound device that -- also relentlessly -- played Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. And Z. stitched one of E's leftover nubs to the head of a plush dog toy. Many of the toys were described as "creepy" so be forewarned before you scroll down any further.

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Collaging

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Magnets, velcro, clay, and other tools for the project.
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G. and R. use screwdrivers to get the pieces they want.

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The Great Toy Remix was a success!