I did a second workshop at Shabhnams (Artist in Residence at Srishti) house on Sunday (15th August). The workshop was attended by five children all around 12 years old.
Since the workshop was to be done with an older and more intimate group I planned the workshop so that we would make a range of the slightly tougher toys which would help them to relate to some of the science they've studied at school.
I realized that with an older age group the aspect of a story reduces and the possibility of building characters with the toys is also not as exciting.
The children werent as attached to the toys as the younger children or as fussy about the materials and were open to experimenting and coming up with their own toys based around the toys we made.
This workshop was done more informally. Taking the workshop outside of school and with the small group made it a little less planned and more interactive in terms of what they did with the toys.
We began with making the Straw Spinner which took a while and several attempts to get right for most of the children, but when it came to understanding how it works they were quick to bring up propellers and the air being blocked by the finger (on the thinner straw) and coming out of the diagonal holes (in the thicker straw).
To keep the motion of something spinning going we put together the Ball in the Air toy which was quick on the assembly. Using the bottle cap limited them to trying to get the ball to spin. But once we removed the bottle cap and got the ball to spin by blowing air through the straw, they began trying it with other things as well and made it into a game of shooting stuff at each other through the straw!!
We went on to making the Sudarshan Chakra toy which was quite easily figured out by most but they were able to get it right and showed much more interest when i presented the formula for getting it to work everytime. They were able to relate to what a Centrifugal and Centripetal force is through the working of the Chakra.
To further explain the concept of the forces we put together the coin in the balloon as a demo which they were able to relate to a biker taking rounds in a circus. They had to be prompted in order to make the connection but seemed like they understood it with ease.
Bringing out the balloons caused quite a stir with making noise either by bursting the balloons or transforming them into noise makers as the air gets let out. To keep the noise going we made the Puppeteers Whistle. A few questions came up as to why we were using the match sticks and the paper in the whistle but were quickly answered by one of the boys in the workshop. The idea of something vibrating to make a sound was pretty familiar to them. Some of them modified the whistle to make a mair of tongs from the ice cream sticks.
To see what else could be done by using vibration we made the Pencil Spinner. However, by this time the children had become a little restless and it didnt work out for any of them. We did pass around a pre-made model though which they tried out enthusiastically.
I also demonstrated using newtons Cradle in the middle of the workshop which was exciting to most. they insisted on trying it out themselves and coming up with their own predictions. Again, a very open attitude to fiddling with the device.
This workshop did not run through the theme of trying to build a narrative with these toy. The dynamic was altogether different with the age group present. The workshop spanned over nearly two hours and the interest in the toys were retained nearly throughout.
Ironically, when i walked into the house the children were all gathered around the computer engaged in a "violent game" (as they put it) and were hapy to run back to it as soon as i was done with the workshop. Getting back to questioning the relevance of this system of using tactile materials, getting the children involved through self initiation etc.