The Design Series

One of our instructors, Travers, helping lead a group of welding students.

One of our instructors, Travers, helping lead a group of welding students.

We believe something simple: creating something is literally changing the world around you, and the knowledge that you are capable of doing that is transformative and empowering

One of the programs offered at The Walter Hive is called The Design Series, it is a week long summer-camp style event consisting of usually 12 kids around the age of 14. The kids spend their time towards the goal of building interactive art installations. It is a perfect embodiment of some of our core beliefs:

1) People are generally capable of more than they think they are.

2) Exposing people to a large set of technologies and tools is important.

3) Creating something is literally changing the world around you, and the knowledge that you are capable of doing that is transformative and empowering.

Students exhibiting their art project “shower of courage”

Students exhibiting their art project “shower of courage”

If I learned something as complicated as welding in 45 minutes, what else could I learn that quickly?

Here is the schedule of just DAY ONE of our design series:

0-45 Mins: Welding

45-90 Mins: Woodworking

90-135 Mins: Laser Cutting

135-180 Mins: Arduino programming (robotics, lighting, etc.)

Each kid gets about 45 minutes with each skill, which might seem like an abnormally small amount of time. This is intentional – what we are challenging the kids with is: if I learned something as complicated as welding in 45 minutes, what else could I learn that quickly?

We’re very upfront with the kids about something: you aren’t going to walk away from this workshop as a master welder, a master woodworker, or a master computer programmer. But you are going to walk away feeling like somebody who is capable of welding, making things out of wood, and programming a computer, and it’s all going to happen in about a week. That’s a powerful feeling. We think of it as giving the kids a superpower: the knowledge that they’re capable of just about anything.

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The Universe is full of black boxes, and we want to illuminate as many of them as we can.

We like to say after our robotics workshops: nobody is going to leave this workshop ready to program the next mars rover, but everybody is going to leave the workshop knowing generally what a robot is and how to program one, and that might lead to them eventually programming the next mars rover.

Computers, for most people, are black boxes: you press the keys, or you move the mouse, but most people don’t really know what is going on inside of that to make meaningful use of those actions. When we teach somebody how to program a computer, though, some of that black box gets illuminated. It goes from something they have absolutely no concept of, to something they can begin to understand.

Lighting up a black box means you better understand the world around you, and feel more confident and empowered to change it.

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That is the foundation of empowerment. Knowing your own value, and knowing that other people recognize it too.

The projects we mentor the kids through building are both expressive and interactive. On the last day of the program, the students exhibit their creations in our art gallery. The intent here is to have as many people come in and interact with what they’ve made as possible. The act of watching people come to see something you’ve built, and enjoy interacting with it, is a powerful experience. It’s a demonstration that the things you create are valuable, and by extension that you are valuable too. That is the foundation of empowerment. Knowing your own value, and knowing that other people recognize it too.

We are abundantly proud of what our students create at these workshops. If you are interested in collaborating with us, please reach out to us by contacting ryan.mcdermott@thewalterhive.org

Ryan McDermott