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{ Exciting New Course For Educators …* } Tinkering Fundamentals: A Constructionist Approach to STEM Learning

{ Exciting New Course For Educators ...* } Tinkering Fundamentals: A Constructionist Approach to STEM Learning | rethinked.org - Photo: Elsa Fridman Randolph

Exciting new (and free) learning opportunity for educators and knowmads coming up later this summer: Coursera’s Tinkering Fundamentals: A Constructionist Approach to STEM Learning online course. The course starts July 22 and runs through September 3, 2015.

Tinkering activities provide a powerful way to inspire students’ interest, engagement, and understanding in science. The Tinkering Fundamentals course will help educators and enthusiasts develop a practice of tinkering and making. This course will focus on key design elements of high-quality, science-rich tinkering activities, effective facilitation strategies and environmental organization.

This is a hands-on workshop, so you will need to obtain or purchase course materials as soon as possible. Pre-bundled materials kits will be available from the Exploratorium online store after June 1, or you can start gathering your own things using our recommended materials list.

Head over to Coursera to register for the course and check out the syllabus.

learn, tinker & rethink …*

Austin Kleon: Creativity Is Not the Lone Genius Myth—It Is Actually the Result of Connectedness …*

Right in time for the weekend, here is a little inspiration from Austin Kleon to spend time creating, sharing and enjoying art and ideas with members of your community.

“One of the reasons I wrote Show Your Work is because something I tried to emphasize in Steal Like an Artist is that we’re brought to creative work by other artists. We fall in love with art because we’re given a box of crayons or we see a movie that changes our lives and then we want to be filmmakers. The whole concept of Steal Like an Artist is to honor our influencers by taking what they have done and turning it into something else that we can then add to. If we think of culture as a big gumbo, then we take a little gumbo and add something to the mix. It goes further than just stealing. Creativity is not the lone genius myth—it is actually the result of connectedness.

I became interested in Brian Eno’s idea of “scenius” versus genius wherein scenius is a communal form of genius. Many great ideas in history weren’t the result of one person; they were the result of a whole scene of people. That was a mind-blowing concept to me, and I wanted to write a book about it by taking the ickiness of self-promotion and reframing it as sharing. Switching your notion of creativity from the genius model to the scenius model means that instead of thinking, “What do I have to give to the world?” you ask, “What does the world need from me?” Sometimes that’s an easier way to get started. Usually, when we talk about creativity, it’s about self-expression, which is great, but for work to be art or design, there has to be someone on the other end. The audience makes the work come alive. Margaret Atwood said something along the lines of, “A book is sheet music that a reader sits down to play.”

Austin Kleon in an interview with The Great Discontent

#MOMA100Days Project – A Bite-Sized Way to Play Creatively & Be Part of a Community That Celebrates Process …*

#MOMA100Days Project - A Bite-Sized Way to Play Creatively & Be Part of a Community That Celebrates Process ...* | rethinked.org  - Illustration by Elle Luna

Illustration by Elle Luna

“Anyone who is hungry to jump-start their creative practice, who is curious about being part of a community that celebrates process, and those who are busy with work and family commitments, but searching for a bite-sized way to play creatively.” – Elle Luna 

Does that sound like you? If so, you should consider participating in MOMA’s 100 Days project, which kicks off April 6th. The MOMA 100 Days project requires you to commit to performing a creative act of your choosing every day for 100 days. You then must photograph each of your creations and share them with the hashtag #MOMA100Days and another hashtag of your choosing so that your personal project can be viewed all in one place.

Here is how the endlessly fantastic Elle Luna describes the inspiration for the project to Tina Essmaker of The Great Discontent:

 A year ago, a group of us launched a social media version of a grad school project conceived by Michael Bierut, a prolific, talented designer, writer, and teacher. For years, he led graduate graphic design students at the Yale School of Art in a workshop that he called “The 100 Day Project.” The premise for Michael Bierut’s class was simple: each student chose one action to repeat every day for 100 days. For example, one student made a poster in under a minute every day for 100 days; another danced in public every day and made a video; another student, Rachel Berger, picked a paint chip out of a bag and responded to it in writing for 100 days.

Basically, if you can dream it, you can do it. The only premise? Participants have to do the same action every day for 100 days, and they have to document every instance of 100. Sounds totally cool, right? That’s what I thought when I first read about this project on Design Observer. Not only were the projects clever, but they also offered an opportunity to grow in one of the ways my friends and I were craving: discipline. The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal. For the 100-Day Project, it’s not about fetishizing finished products—it’s about the process.

A hundred days! I can recall the questions that raced through my mind before I decided to jump in: Can I handle it? Will I push through when my schedule is jammed? Will I share even when I can’t resolve a piece? Will I show up every day, even when it hurts—especially when it hurts? A group of us banded together and decided to share our projects on Instagram, tagging images with #the100dayproject. People of all ages joined in, and there was something very empowering about the accountability of doing the project alongside other people in a very public way via Instagram.

Source: Elle Luna: 100 DayProject + MoMA via The Great Discontent

What will you commit to creating for 100 days? Let us know …* 

#MOMA100Days Project - A Bite-Sized Way to Play Creatively & Be Part of a Community That Celebrates Process ...* | rethinked.org  - Illustration by Elle Luna

Illustration by Elle Luna

“Design is never finished but constantly adapting to a world in flux” – How Do You Define Design?

"Design is never finished but constantly adapting to a world in flux" - How Do You Define Design?  | rethinked.org

“Design is making. Design is thinking with your hands. Design is arranging the world around us to ensure the functioning and well-being of our communities. Design is the inherent human capability of understanding a challenge and its context followed by the instinctive act of rapid, iterative trial and error until a solution is found. Design is having trust in your intuition to take non-linear creative leaps in order to beat habit. Design is never finished but constantly adapting to a world in flux.” –  Matthias Reichwald

I’m always interested in hearing how people define design and I quite liked the definition above, which I found yesterday while reading an article on Design Indaba. What do you think?

How do you define design? 

Source: What Design Thinking Can Do For Africa via Design Indaba

David Shrigley on Trusting the Process, Experiencing Flow, & Showing Up To Do the Work No Matter What…*

Read a great interview with artist David Shrigley on Dazed yesterday and thought I’d share my favorite bits on the blog as they relate to several key ideas we’ve been exploring in our work and writing these past two years.

enjoy & rethink …*

FLOW – 

I think when there’s somebody who is going to come and take the drawings away on Monday and you still have 20 drawings to do that does tend to hinder the enjoyment of it – and that’s the situation I’m in right now! But, in essence, the moment when I’m working is still the moment when I feel most free in the eye of the storm that is around me. I feel very at peace when I’m working, it’s a very meditative and cathartic thing for me.

TRUST THE PROCESS – 

I tend to write lists of things that I’d quite like to make but I’ve no idea how they’ll resolve themselves. They’re usually a list of very banal things: for example, two things on my list today are the words “pissing” and “human heart”. I will interpret those two instructions as I see fit. Something will happen eventually but a lot of it gets discarded so I try not to put any pressure on one particular image. If you’re making something and you know that there’s a high probability that it’ll get thrown away, it gives you the ability to make something that isn’t contrived. Well, that’s the strategy.

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SHOW UP & DO THE WORK –

I have more successful days and less successful days but I don’t allow myself to have creative blocks because I don’t stop creating. Sometimes I make things that aren’t very good but my rules dictate that I make it anyway and just having that attitude seems to work. I still make the work even if I don’t want to. Somehow eventually something happens.

*

Source: David Shrigley: ‘I’m quite happy being a ponce!’ via Dazed, published October 24, 2014

{ Tinkerers Delight } Download PSFK’s Makers’ Manual …*

Cool free new resource alert for rethinkers–the PSFK’s Makers’ Manual.

The Maker’s Manual explores how everyone from do-it-yourselfers and artists to inventors and entrepreneurs are leveraging new tools, platforms and services to take their ideas from concepts to reality.

learn, make & rethink …* 

Milton Glaser: You Can’t Take Anything at Face Value, You Have to Go Beyond the Superficiality of Existing Belief …*

“I saw a Cézanne that I had never seen, a pencil and watercolor of a landscape, and I was transformed. By looking at it, my world was enlarged. At this ancient age, I am still capable of astonishment, of feeling, “My god, I never had this experience before.” And that is what the arts provide, this sense of enlargement and the sense that you haven’t come to the end of your understanding—either of yourself or of other things.” – Milton Glaser

If you’re looking to infuse your day with a hefty dose of inspiration, I suggest this interview, which iconic graphic designer Milton Glaser gave for Jonathan Fields’ Good Life Project. The conversation is full of insights into Milton’s creative process and his understanding of the human experience. I highly recommend finding the time to watch the video in full, but in the meantime, I have transcribed below my three favorite insights from the conversation.

make the ordinary unknown & rethink …*

Milton Glaser: Certainty Is A Closing of the Mind via The Good Life Project

{ To Make Something Is Miraculous & the Creation of Beauty, At Its Core, Is About Empathy }

After a while you begin to realize, a. how little you know about everything and, two, how vast the brain is and how it encompasses everything you can imagine, but more than that, everything you can’t imagine. What is perhaps central to this is the impulse to make things, which seems to me to be a primary characteristic of human beings—the desire to make things–whatever they turn out to be. And then, supplementary to that is the desire to create beauty which is a different, but analogous activity. So the urge to make things, probably, is a survival device, the urge to create beauty is something else, but only apparently something else, because as you know, there are no unrelated events in the human experience. So beauty, and the creation of it, is a survival mechanism. There is something about making things beautiful, and we sometimes call that art, that has something to do with creating a commonality between human beings so that they don’t kill each other. And whatever that impulse is and wherever it comes from, it certainly is contained within every human being I’ve ever met. Sometime the opportunity to articulate it occurs, sometimes it remains dormant for a lifetime, you just don’t get the shot at it.
But I’ve been very lucky, I’ve imagined myself as a maker of things since the age of five. I realized that to make something was miraculous and I never stopped. I just kept making things all my life.
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{ Learning to See is A LifeLong Endeavor; Drawing Helps }

The great benefits of drawing is that when you look at something you see it for the first time.
You have to constantly be attentive to what you deflect in life and what you don’t pay attention to and all the things that you can’t see, and all the preconceptions that you do have about everything. Those preconceptions basically blur your vision. It’s very hard to see what’s in front of you.
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{ Be Suspicious of Defining the “Good Life,” Don’t take anything at face value & go beyond the superficiality of existing belief }

I’m very suspicious of some words like that and also what they link to. I guess I feel now that you can’t take anything at face value, you have to go beyond the superficiality of existing belief. My favorite quote is, “Certainty is a closing of the mind”. And so, I don’t know what a good life is. A good life for me, certainly, has been the things that I think are important–friendships that I have; people that I love; certainly, a marriage that has endured and continues to endure; teaching, which I’ve been doing for well over half a century, and feeling that whatever you know has a possibility of being transmitted and shared—outside of that I wouldn’t know how to define a good life. And as you know some people seem to be heroes to some and villains to others.
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{ Rethinking Our Definition of Success } Tina Roth Eisenberg’s 5 Personal Rules for Life & Work …*

“I think a lot about what it means to be a good mom and I think a lot about what it means to be a good boss. And if I’ve learned one thing in doing both, it’s that in having these roles you need to really be able to articulate what you stand for, what you believe in and what your values are. And I believe in an environment of kindness, respect and trust. I believe in an environment where you can be vulnerable and make mistakes. I believe in an environment where we push each other to be better and shine the light on others. What I’m secretly hoping for is a new measure for success that goes beyond money and power. I measure success with the happiness I see around me and with the personal growth I see around me. I firmly believe that we all can make a difference, because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you lead a team of two people or a company of five hundred. If your team members go home feeling fulfilled, happy, appreciated, they’re going to be a better spouse, they’re going to be a better mom, a better dad, and they’re just going to be happier members of the society. So I’m obviously no expert on leadership, and I’m far from perfect, but what I’m trying to be is just the best mom and the best boss that I can be. And if you just take one thing away from this talk, I would hope for it to be that when you go back to your work, to your families, that you really think about what you can do to bring just a little bit more heart, a little bit more kindness, a little bit more sense of generosity and play into your environments. And if you don’t know where to start, I suggest you empty out one of your desk drawers and you fill it with confetti.”  – Tina Roth Eisenberg 

Here’s a wonderful talk by rethinked * favorite, Tina Roth Eisenberg, aka Swiss Miss in which she shares her five personal rules for life and work and proposes a new definition of success based on kindness, generosity, heart and personal growth.

{ TINA’S 5 PERSONAL RULES FOR LIFE & WORK

  1. Embrace your superpower – own it and use it
  2. Don’t complain, make things better
  3. Choose wisely who you hang out with
  4. Don’t forget to play
  5. Push to be better

Tina Roth Eisenberg: 5 Rules for Making an Impact from 99U on Vimeo.

Ernest Hemingway: “As long as you can start, you are all right. The juice will come.”

Ernest Hemingway: "As long as you can start, you are all right. The juice will come." | rethinked.org

From things that have happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality. That is why you write and for no other reason that you know of. But what about all the reasons that no one knows?” -Ernest Hemingway

Today we are celebrating Ernest Hemingway’s birthday here at rethinked* Other than being a great and completely superfluous excuse for gorging ourselves on cupcakes, it is a splendid time to reflect on some of his insights on the creative process. Here are some of my favorite quotes from his 1958 interview with the Paris Review.

eat [cup]cakes, reflect, create & rethink …* 

– On the Feeling Tones of the Creative Process – 

When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.

 

– On Knowing When to Stop – 

But if you stopped when you knew what would happen next, you can go on. As long as you can start, you are all right. The juice will come.

 

– On Solitude, the Passing of Time & the Creative Act – 

The further you go in writing the more alone you are. Most of your best and oldest friends die. Others move away. You do not see them except rarely, but you write and have much the same contact with them as though you were together at the café in the old days. You exchange comic, sometimes cheerfully obscene and irresponsible letters, and it is almost as good as talking. But you are more alone because that is how you must work and the time to work is shorter all the time and if you waste it you feel you have committed a sin for which there is no forgiveness.

 

– On Enhancing One’s Craft By Learning From Other Fields – 

I put in painters, or started to, because I learn as much from painters about how to write as from writers. You ask how this is done? It would take another day of explaining. I should think what one learns from composers and from the study of harmony and counterpoint would be obvious.

 

– On the Artist – Audience Relationship & the Need For a Work of Art to Stand Alone –  

Read anything I write for the pleasure of reading it. Whatever else you find will be the measure of what you brought to the reading.

A sensible question is neither a delight nor an annoyance. I still believe, though, that it is very bad for a writer to talk about how he writes. He writes to be read by the eye and no explanations or dissertations should be necessary. You can be sure that there is much more there than will be read at any first reading and having made this it is not the writer’s province to explain it or to run guided tours through the more difficult country of his work.

 

– On the Only Constant of the Creative Act Being Change & Movement – 

Sometimes you know the story. Sometimes you make it up as you go along and have no idea how it will come out. Everything changes as it moves. That is what makes the movement which makes the story. Sometimes the movement is so slow it does not seem to be moving. But there is always change and always movement.

 

– On Competition – 

I used to try to write better than certain dead writers of whose value I was certain. For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.

 

– On Reminding Oneself that Creating Something Out of Nothing Is Always Difficult & Often Involves Some Degree of Despair – 

I read them [his own novels] sometimes to cheer me up when it is hard to write and then I remember that it was always difficult and how nearly impossible it was sometimes.

 

– On the Importance of Observing & Soaking Up Experience – 

If a writer stops observing he is finished. But he does not have to observe consciously nor think how it will be useful. Perhaps that would be true at the beginning. But later everything he sees goes into the great reserve of things he knows or has seen.

 

– On His Principle of the Iceberg – 

If it is any use to know it, I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows. Anything you know you can eliminate and it only strengthens your iceberg. It is the part that doesn’t show. If a writer omits something because he does not know it then there is a hole in the story. 

[…]

First I have tried to eliminate everything unnecessary to conveying experience to the reader so that after he or she has read something it will become a part of his or her experience and seem actually to have happened. This is very hard to do and I’ve worked at it very hard.

Anyway, to skip how it is done, I had unbelievable luck this time and could convey the experience completely and have it be one that no one had ever conveyed. The luck was that I had a good man and a good boy and lately writers have forgotten there still are such things. Then the ocean is worth writing about just as man is. So I was lucky there. I’ve seen the marlin mate and know about that. So I leave that out. I’ve seen a school (or pod) of more than fifty sperm whales in that same stretch of water and once harpooned one nearly sixty feet in length and lost him. So I left that out. All the stories I know from the fishing village I leave out. But the knowledge is what makes the underwater part of the iceberg.

*

Source: Ernest Hemingway, The Art of Fiction No. 21. The Paris Review, Spring 1958

{ 8 Tips for Making …* } When You Make New Things, You’re Joining In the Most Ancient Dialogue That Humans Have Ever Had

{ 8 Tips for Making ...* } When You Make New Things, You're Joining In the Most Ancient Dialogue That Humans Have Ever Had | rethinked.org

Right in time for all your weekend projects, here are eight of Mythbusters’ Adam Savage‘s ten commandments of making, which he shared at this year’s Maker Faire. I’ve transcribed my favorite eight below (the last two being rather technical — measure carefully so that you know when to use high tolerance versus loose tolerance and use more cooling fluid.) These are some great tips that apply across most creative endeavors, whether you are making a tangible object or ‘thinkering’ out an idea. You can view the full speech here, Savage shares his ten tips on making in the first ten minutes and spends the remaining forty minutes answering questions from the audience.

What will you be making? Send us some pictures!

make & rethink …

MAKE SOMETHING – ANYTHING }

“The first rule of making, I will say, is make something–anything: cook, weld, carve, sculpt. Anything that you need to make, it’s important that you make it. Humans do two things that make us unique from all other animals: we use tools and we tell stories. And when you make something, you’re doing both at once–you’re telling a story about your desire, you’re telling a story about something that you want, you’re telling a story about something you see needs to be made and you are using your tools to improve yourself and improve the world around you. When you make new things, you’re joining in the most ancient dialogue that humans have ever had.”

MAKE SOMETHING, OCCASIONALLY, THAT ACTUALLY IMPROVES YOUR LIFE }

“From a toilet paper holder that actually works to a toaster that’s slightly improved. When you make something that you use every day as opposed to something that’s useless, I can’t even tell you how good it feels. Even like a handle on a drawer, you make a handle on a drawer and you’re using it every single day, the patina of your use that it gets feels really good. And it’s another story.”

START NOW }

“Start now. Start right now to do the thing you want to do, there is no time like right now and do it with the things in front of you. If you want to weld a car frame but you don’t have a welder or a car or a frame, go ahead and mock it up out of cardboard.”

{ LEARN SKILLS THROUGH PROJECTS }

“I can’t learn any skills unless I have a project to learn with. I need a goal. […] I can’t learn to weld just by someone showing me that it should sound like frying eggs and you set the dials like this. I need to end up with Wolverine claws or a sword or a pair of stilts or something like that. Always try to find a project that will get you interested in the thing that you want to build.”

{ ASK- ASK QUESTIONS, ASK FOR HELP, ASK FOR ADVICE, ASK FOR FEEDBACK }

“Ask for advice and when you find someone you trust, ask for feedback. I’ll tell you, it’s very funny, among adults we rarely actually turn to each other and say, ‘what do you think of the work that I’m doing?’ And it’s because that places us in a very vulnerable spot. But again, if you can find a teacher or a mentor or someone whose opinion you really respect, asking them very specifically about how they think you’re doing can give you incredible insight. I’ve done it a few times in my life and every single time, I’ve gotten a tremendous perspective on what I was actually doing.”

{ SHARE

“That is really important. There is nothing that makes me angrier than when somebody does something beautiful and you ask how it’s done and they say it’s a secret. No secrets! What are you protecting? Nobody’s going to take your technique. Nobody has a monopoly on being you and if you think that your technique is what makes you interesting, you’re being ridiculous. So share your techniques because when you do, someone is going to come back to you with a better way of doing it and you’re going to learn something from them.”

{ RECOGNIZE THAT FAILURE & DISCOURAGEMENT ARE PART OF THE PROCESS }

“Please recognize that discouragement and failure are part of every single make project. Not something that happens every now and then–in every single project you will find yourself discouraged and you will fail at some point. If you recognize that, if you recognize that you’re going to fail, at least when it’s about to happen–when you are getting discouraged because you hit a snag and you don’t have the part and it’s Sunday night and it’s four a.m.–at least then you know that that’s part of what’s going to happen. And that the next morning it may be a little harder to get started but if you know that mechanism, you can actually keep going. I personally, and I’ve said this many times before, whenever I’m making something, about 70 percent of the way in, I actually think I have no idea what I’m doing and I hate what I’m building. And Fellini even said that he knows that one of his films is almost finished when he totally despises it. And frankly, that 70, 80, 90 percent mark–the closer you get to the end, the more scared I get because it turns out that I hate finishing things. I’d much rather keep working on them and keep getting that endorphin rush of the Ebay research and finding that part that I didn’t know existed. Actually getting all the way to the end is a little bit difficult but if you recognize what your mechanism is, where the places you’ll get frustrated, they are your friends. You can welcome them in. This is also part of mindfulness and meditation–understand that those thoughts are going to happen and embrace them. Look, they still are going to suck, I’m not gonna lie to you, it sucks to fail, it hurts to cut yourself, but it’s going to happen in every single project.”

{ MAKE THINGS FOR OTHER PEOPLE

“I can’t even describe to you, how much pleasure I get when I make something and then I give it to somebody else and they get a story, they get the thing that I’ve made. They get the fruit of a couple of hours of my time and concentration and they get to possess it. It does make you vulnerable when you give your stuff away, you should recognize that. Giving your stuff away does actually place you in a slightly vulnerable position but it is also a really magical one. So occasionally, when you’re making something, give it away. Give it to other people.”

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[Hat Tip: Adam Savage’s 10 Commandments of DIYing via Lifehacker, published May 20, 2014]

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