GGHC2011 Week1 Blog
"Introduce your team (video would be a great way to do this), explain your hackerspace's philosophy, and provide a top level summary of your first week"
Hi there! We're i3Detroit. We're a place where hardware hackers, crafters, machinists, prop-makers, and carpenters work side by side on their interests. We teach public classes and share our skills with each other in our 8,000 square foot facility in Ferndale, MI. Our mission: "To provide work space, storage, and other resources for projects related to art and technology through talks, workshops, collaborative projects, and other activities, to encourage research, knowledge exchange, learning, and mentoring in a safe, clean space."
Our members participating in this year's Great Global Hackerspace Challenge:
Nate Bezanson - Serious hardware hacker and founding member of i3Detroit. He works every day he can to build our organization - quite literally in this pic as he holds up an I-beam.
Ryan Busch - Information security expert by day and a hacker by night.
Karen Corbeill - Video editor, stage technician expert, and prop fabricator.
Mario Corsetti - Art teacher, prop builder, and creative thinker.
Aaron Dubin - Information technologist and duct tape textile fabricator.
Rocco Marras - Developer and print shop entrepreneur.
Ed Platt - Co-founder and current board member at i3 Detroit, Edward L. Platt studied physics and computer science at MIT, and is currently working as a web developer in Metro Detroit. He draws a snowflake every day.
Ross Smith - Developer, airbrush artist, amateur voice actor.
Matt Switlik - Developer, electronics wiz and EL wire junkie.
Nate Warnick - Linux junkie, podcaster, and part-time luchador.
Our first week went by quickly and yielded valuable early direction for our project. Ed Platt, the de-facto leader and strategist for the project, led several meetings to hash out our initial game plan. We decided early on that researching the experience, frustrations, and triumphs of teachers near us would inform us about the realistic challenges they face. Once that real-world context is set firmly in our minds, we will be in a strong position to conceive a piece of electronics that will respond to those needs.
To this end, Karen and Ross put together a teaser video soliciting educators to contact i3Detroit to participate in the project. By re-posting this message in our extended social network, we increase the chances of meeting and speaking with more teachers, and thus have more real-world data to inform our project. Mario led a meeting with the teachers in his own school, running them through a questionnaire designed to provoke thought about which creative strategies really "reach" their kids in the classroom. The group met with two seasoned educators from Roeper, a local school for gifted kids.
With these two "real-world teacher downloads" under our belt, we commenced brainstorming project ideas. We've amassed a list of project ideas growing out of these conversations.
In our brainstorming session, we went back many times to the thought that the invention should be useful and *itself* a project that students can build. Learning through fabrication is central to our philosophy, as is using the projects you create. A project that allows for open-ended problem solving while also serving a key educational function is at the fore of our minds. The next big question, of course, is what that project actually looks like!
Several more teacher meetings are in the hopper for next week, and as those wind to a close, we will refine our brainstorms down to a short list of project candidates. With this research strategy informing our project, we're confident that our eventual creation will be fun for kids and useful for educators.