Six students, a windowless room, and a makerbot on the way. Chaos is inevitable.
We want to advocate for making things rather than consuming them. Creating culture rather than passively bystanding. Figuring out how to get some technical chops when you come late to the geek table.
This is actually a research project by a group in the Human Centered Design & Engineering department at the University of Washington. We're affiliated with the Design for Digital Inclusion Lab. This post is being written by Beth Kolko, director of that lab.
This is a project that is about both research and education. It grows out of my desire to better understand innovation, which in turn grows out of many years of fieldwork around the world and studies of how people adopt and adapt technology in places ranging from Liberia to Uzbekistan. Over the next few months this group of students is going to build a CupcakeCNC 3d printer, master the art of making things with it, and teach other students how to make things -- and they are going to document their journey. They're not especially technical (although 3 of the 6 claim to have at least held a soldering iron before), and they've got only themselves and the Internet to lead them. Together we are both researchers and study subjects, and we'll be participant-observing ourselves.
But this isn't about methodology. It's about discovery. And with luck, it will also be about learning a little more about how people learn complex skills, how they open to innovation, and how education can respond in creative ways to new models of inquiry.
Also, it's about fun.