Second School Visit (October 15, 2015) – Prototype #2
For our second visit to the school we decided to bring a more organized activity for the students. Our activity consisted of playdoh, materials, a box theater with backgrounds that the students would vote on. Going into the visit we were a little unsure about if the playdoh would hold all the students attentions for 15 to 20 minutes.
Our response device activity was to give out playdoh and other materials like rounded ended toothpicks, straws, and LED throwies to the students. We would then ask them to make anything they wanted to with the clay. Then when they finished they would place them in our box theater. They would all vote and come to a consensus on a background to use. Then finally, they would create a small story with the background and their playdoh creations. This was the plan for the activity, however, we knew that we had to be able to think on our feet and adjust the flow as we went. We knew going to the visit that we wanted to keep it informal without too many directions so the students could individually express themselves with their playdoh creations and stories.
Interacting with the Students:
The first group was made up of three boys and two girls. Immediately there was a conflict over the googly eyes. One of the girls wanted all of the eyes to themselves. Zeke quickly resolved the problem by saying to the girl and the group that there was enough for everyone to have their own set of eyes so they should share. The conflict dissipated quickly after that. I was sitting next to a very outspoken student. He asked me what my favorite movie was and if I had a favorite Mutant Ninja Turtle and other questions related to movies or video games. The students in this group were really interested in the LED throwies. Many of them tried to make their playdoh light up by sticking the lights into the playdoh. One student actually achieved this by sticking it close enough to the surface.
The second group of students was made up of three boys and three girls. One girl came running over to the table pushing past other students saying over and over “I want to sit with the girls!”. This was interesting because she spent a majority of the 20 minutes only talking to Zeke. It was obvious within the first minute that one boy was one of the most outgoing students. He talked a lot and made the other students laugh or listen to what he was saying. However, when it came to the playdoh, he became frustrated when his structure fell down or fell apart. Daisy spent a majority of the time assisting him with his playdoh. He did make a couple of worms with googly eyes and LED lights. We noticed that the second group of students were not as excited about the LED lights as the first group. One girl was sitting next to me and made a blonde haired, blue eyed sleeping girl. She refused to put her playdoh creation in the box until her girl had a bed to sleep on. It was interesting because for the first 10 minutes she was very quiet. But when Zeke asked “Where should I put the next eyeball on this alien?”, she jumped up and quickly pointed and directed to where he should put it. This was interesting because she got up with one boy who was the most talkative of the group. The other two girls mostly talked amongst themselves and focused more on details of their creations. They wanted sticks of different lengths and when they realized there were none they adapted their creations to something that worked with the materials we had.
The last group was made of two girls and three boys. Two of the boys sat across from each other and constantly looked to each other for jokes and to talk. The third boy sat on the other end of the table. He began to be frustrated when he could not open the playdoh
containers due to the cast on his arm. I noticed that one Caucasian girl was constantly looking at other students’ projects and comparing them to her own. She would look at a neighbor’s creation and then adjust hers. When the teacher came over to see their creations almost all of them immediately proudly held up their playdoh and called out for her attention and approval of their creations.
We noticed that the first group was the most enthusiastic about the LED throwies. We believe that this is due to the fact that they were able to watch them light up as Lauren would assemble the LEDs and the batteries. This “magical” effect made the students more excited to use them. As a group, we were surprised by how enthusiastic all the students were with the playdoh. With the first group we worried about making it to the second part of our activity. However, as we observed every student working at their own pace and expressing themselves through their creations, we thought it was more important to let the students feel comfortable rather than rush them along. In addition, we were surprised by how excited the students were about placing their creations in the theater box and picking a background. The number of aliens created that day was very surprising. We started to think to implement this theme later on in our future visits
What to improve:
Reflecting on this second visit, as a group we thought that having some preparation and organization to the materials would be easier for us, the students, and the teachers. We had to spend a lot of time after the activities to clean up our station. In addition, we noticed that a lot of disputes were over the lack of equal distribution of the materials. We decided that in order to keep conflicts at a minimum that we would have to plan ahead and organize our materials before handing them to the students.