Project Zero Atlanta: Random Thoughts/Impressions/Reflections

So, I went to this conference:  Project Zero Perspectives: Think Create Innovate.  Here are some initial impressions and notes.  If I wait until I have time to really dive in, this will never get done!

Agency by Design.

Agency by Design is a research strand of PZ focused on maker culture.  There were several parts of the conference (speakers and sessions) that hit on this strand, and it is the one I keep coming back to in my mind.  Key ideas:

  • Slow looking in order to see the complexity of parts and how they interact.
  • “Sensitivity to design.” I keep thinking about this.  The idea is that, when we look at an object in the world, we reflect on how it was made and designed, and we encourage kids to slow down and do this same kind of reflection. This is powerful stuff.  “Drawing on interviews, site visits, and observations of student work, AbD formed the hypothesis that fostering young people’s sensitivity to the designed dimension of the world may be a powerful way to increase their sense of agency.”  YES.  If I understand how something works and how it was created, I have more power/agency when it comes to my own creations/designs.
  • “Do It Together” (versus DIY).  Importance of community; standing on the shoulders of giants even when working alone.  Maker culture as not anti-individual, but emphasis on community, no person an island.

Culture of Questions (David Perkins)

David Perkins gave a talk on questions, defining Big Questions and what they do.

Big questions:

  • Are open; reflect insight, action, ethics, opportunity
  • Energize and organize learning
  • Are enduring and universal; can make progress on them, but no easy answers
  • Wonder AT things, not just ABOUT things.

The big takeaway from this for me was, like above, this concept of slowing down and wondering.  Instead of trying to dive in too fast to answers or building, taking time to look at what’s there first, or think about design.

Mindful Looking

I did a shorter session on mindful looking, where we looked at a painting for about 15 minutes, then came up with questions about it, then talked about our questions.  This was that idea of “slow looking” put into practice. It was really interesting to see, not only what questions I came up with myself about the painting when given an opportunity to really look closely, but what questions and observations other folks had.

In thinking about applying this to the Makerspace specifically, I could imagine having kids take apart a common object and look at it silently/mindfully, and then discuss their questions. I see an activity like this leading to some really interesting making.

And those are my thoughts for now!

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