Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sidewalk Chalk Geometric Art

I built a cardboard octagon template to play with math and sidewalk chalk during The School's weekly recess in the park.

I used three pieces of cardboard for this template. The Skil cardboard cutter made quick and easy cuts, though its speed was a little intimidating and young students would need supervision using them. The pieces were glued together with Elmer's glue.

The 3D printed rivets are one of my favorite go-to 3D printed tools. They work best in ABS because they need to be a little flexible. They are optional but do provide a good means to attach the handle. 

I wrapped the edges in masking tape since the glue did not extend to the edges and I wanted something slightly more durable than cardboard for the chalk to come in contact with.

I took the template to recess and drew a couple designs. The template was easy to work with and it was fun to replicate some TurtleArt designs with which I was familiar. 

The students enjoyed playing with the template, too.

 My son had fun with it as well.

I worked on a more complex design at home. Using different color chalk in the shapes created by overlapping shapes brings complexity to the design.

Next, I built a circle template. I used a Home Despot bucket lid as my template and cut it with a box cutter and a new blade. This time I used two pieces of heavy duty cardboard. 

The cardboard was too thick for the rivets to go through both layers, so the washer end of the rivet is sandwiched between the layers. 

I used duct tape to cover the edge and help attach the handle over the rivets.

Using the edge of the sidewalk helped me arrange the first row.

I filled the overlapping shapes with different color chalk. You don't need to draw too hard to create the fill: try not to burn through your chalk by gorilla'ing it into the ground.

People have suggested different materials from MDF to laser cut acrylic and I encourage them to pursue these materials. However, I felt strongly about stopping at cardboard and iterating on details like cardboard heaviness, tapes, and whether the 3D printed rivets were necessary because I wanted this project to scale. Most people do not yet have ready access to laser cutting, while cardboard is nearly ubiquitous. 

@tieandjeans asked what other shapes might be a good "starter kit." Circle, Square, and Triangle, of course, and whatever other polygon tickles your fancy.

Build some templates for yourself and share the shapes you and your students create.

Friday, September 23, 2016

OLPC Harvest Moon

The harvest moon of September, 2016 was spectacular! I wanted to take a photo of the moon to remember it, especially after I noticed the amount of detail I could view through a pair of binoculars. My phone was useless as it only captured a big white blob. 

Enter the OLPC, with its fixed focus camera and the Telescope activity, which lets you adjust the gain, exposure, brightness, and offers 2x digital zoom.

My friend in Paraguay admired the photograph on Facebook and I suggested he use his OLPC to capture some pictures, too. Here are the ones he shared!

What an awesome reminder that we all see the same moon, no matter who we are or where we live!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

3D Printed Bird's Nest

I found a really well preserved bird's nest and decided to 3D scan it using a Structure scanner and my iPhone 5s. The new version of the scanner app captures a great resolution model. I did no cleanup in Meshmixer but I did run it through Netfabb online to make the model water tight.

I printed it with a raft and full supports because of the overhangs. It was worth the extra time and plastic.

Even with the raft and supports attached it looked pretty amazing.

The model was easy to clean up and looks fantastic, like a futuristic relic. Do androids dream of 3D printed nests?

It will be fun to decorate the Christmas tree with a few of these and the realistic bird ornaments that my wife has from her grandparent's tree. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

"Eclipse" LogoTurtle Shadow Box

I took a LogoTurtle to a friend's house to use it with his son, a seventh grader. He thought it would be fun to program a drawing. Typically, I start a person designing in TurtleArt then help them convert the design to the LogoTurtle.

It did not take him long to program an "eclipse" design.

Likewise, we had little trouble converting the drawing to the LogoTurtle.

We iterated on the size and the number of repetitions. Before losing interest, the student reached this design. We added wait and pen up and pen down commands to add contrast to the drawing through color change.

I was taken by the design and continued to remix it when I got home.

Reflecting on it, one would see the moon, not the earth, passing in front of the sun in an eclipse, so I continued to iterate on the moon procedure.

I used math to make a difficult design easier. The LogoTurtle draws an arcrt :radius 365, with :radius as a variable that starts at 140. On each repeat the radius reduces by 5, while the LogoTurtle also turns right 90, goes forward :radius / 35 (since the repeat happens 35 times), then left 90 to set up for the next arc.

The design was close to what I wanted but not quite there. I decided to experiment with different papers. The first was too heavy with too much curl in it for the LogoTurtle to draw accurately enough for me.

Måla paper from IKEA comes in awesome colors and is a nice weight. I separated the procedures and ran them on yellow Måla paper and some cool silver paper I purchased a while ago at Staples.

I used an X-Acto knife, a ruler, and a steady hand to cut out the drawings.

I mounted the drawings on hand-made paper hinges and framed them in a shadow box.

At first I was uncertain whether I liked the idea of running the "Eclipse" procedure as separate procedures, since the original "Eclipse" was written as a single LogoTurtle procedure. However, the finished piece is worth the remix, and can be considered a experiment with mediums and programming just as the pen change was earlier in the design iteration. It now hangs with the other LogoTurtle drawings in my stairwell.