Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Celebrating Robots

To wrap up mini-maker week at The Children’s Museum in Easton, innovator and designer Steve Norris was our special guest maker who helped us celebrate robots! 

 Steve brought three robots for the kids to interact with; Huey, Frank, and Butler-Bot.

Huey: Color chasing robot
Butler-Bot: robot made from a trashcan

Frank: Face-detecting robot

  • Huey is a color chasing robot, which is attracted to the color orange.  Kids got to hold up an orange piece of paper as Huey followed them wherever they went. 
  • Frank is a face detecting robot, who recognizes the kid’s faces as they stand in front of it.  
  • Lastly, Butler-Bot is the robot made from a trashcan who was roaming the floor for almost two hours straight.  Butler-Bot was also featured in the latest Transformers Movie!  Steve spent a week on the set and had an amazing experience, he said that he never thought his hobby would take him this far.            

Steve Norris is a software programmer and a writer for Robot Magazine.  Writing for the magazine is Steve’s favorite hobby, where he gets to write every two months about the robots he builds.  He has built 44 in total, one every two months, and has written in the magazine for just about all of them. 

Kids making their scribble-bots
The children also got the opportunity to make their own scribble-bots!  These scribble-bots were made out of simple household items including the motor from the inside of an electrical toothbrush. For instrucions on how to make your own, click here to visit the Exploritorium website!  The kids got to watch their robots come to life as they made cool designs scribbling all over the paper.  Steve loves to inspire people into getting involved in science and technology, so watching the kids in awe as they designed their own robots was a great experience for us and him.  To check out more amazing creations from Mini Maker week, look for our blog post about textle artist Rhona Fazio!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Textile Artist Rhonda Fazio

Rhonda Fazio was our first Mini Maker that visited on Monday during April Vacation week at the Children’s Museum in Easton. She showed visitors how to create a God’s Eye with yarn, wire and wooden sticks. The woven piece of art were then, turned into a piano that was made from circuits. It was a magical creation!
Rhonda is an Environmental Alchemist and textile artist. She is a graduate of art history and textile design from the University of Massachusetts at DartmouthPrior to UMD, she studied Professional Craft: Fiber and Clay at Haywood Community College near Asheville, North Carolina. She has been doing textile and weaving for over 15 years. It is not a hobby, but a discipline. She is very passionate about her work and loves teaching others about the art and history of the dyes.

Rhonda dyes silk and makes wrap clothing by hand without using any fossil fuels. All Dyer Maker materials are made from 100% natural fibers and pigments. Each color is hand crafted from raw materials and extracted without the use of harmful chemicals. Reflective of ancient cultural methods and hand processes of design, each piece is unique and may be wrapped in a number of ways to complement the individuality of the wearer.

Each dye tells a story from the past. America was built on the textile industry, but in recent years has declined. There is a lot of history behind making dyes and Rhonda wants to tell those stories and get people excited about the industry again. Rhonda has started a campaign called Colors Across America that will begin in October of 2015. Last year, she took a 28 day trip to California, driving the southern route, doing a lot of research and teaching workshops along the way. You can donate to her 2015 campaign by going to her Home Page on her website. 

Rhonda is currently writing a book about her adventures on the road. The book will be teaching people how to use color in a beautiful way, while also sharing about the history of textile and dying. It is important as an artist for Rhonda to connect with her materials as well as the many people, not just in and around her studio and community, but all around America too.

Rhonda has her own studio located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River, Massachusetts. She teaches her own workshops, where anyone is welcome to come and create their own wearable art. Rhonda will be starting a drink and dyes class called Sun Set Sessions that will be held on the 3rd floor at the Narrow Center on Tuesday Nights at 7pm. You can watch the sunset, drink wine and learn how to weave. More information will be available on her website soon, so look out for that! Rhonda’s studio is open Wednesday – Friday from 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm and Saturday 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm. Stop by anytime to learn more about her work and the art of dying! For more information on Rhonda and her workshops, click here to visit her website.

*Written by Nicole Brooks, Public Relations Intern

Friday, May 1, 2015

Why Playing with Dirt Doesn't Hurt

The Spring weather has finally arrived! Soon enough you may find that your children are covered in dirt, leaving a trail of their adventures on your kitchen floor. Sure, dirt hurts the cleanliness of your home, but studies have shown there are many benefits to playing outdoors, with the company of dirt. 

According to the National Wildlife Federation, playing outside can have a long-lasting impact on child development. Playing outdoors increases fitness levels, and promotes healthy bodies. While outside Vitamin D levels have been known to increase, which is a preventative for future healthy problems like issues relating to bone development, heart disease, and diabetes. 

Playing outdoors also has some great social benefits. Studies have shown that within minutes of seeing green space children's stress levels fall significantly. Playing outdoors also benefits children socially, allowing them to form close relationships. 

And then dirt comes in. Playing with dirt exposes children to healthy bacteria, parasites, and viruses, that help build a healthy immune system. Children who are rarely exposed to dirt have a higher chance of suffering from allergies, asthma, and other autoimmune diseases. Research has shown that within minutes of children making contact with dirt, their moods have improved, stress has been reduced and anxiety has decreased. 

You might be thinking how you can play in the dirt with your children. Luckily, we have a few ideas that you can take advantage of.

1. You can pick a spot where your children can dig. Give them a shovel and a bucket and watch them explore the world of dirt. 

2. You can go for a walk in your own yard or take a walk with your children through your neighborhood. 

3. Plan a nature scavenger hunt. 

These three very different activities will allow you to interact with your children outdoors and explore nature. You'll be amazed at how much your mood will change, from doing something as simple as going on a short walk. 

In the celebration of dirt and all the fun it brings along, we are happy to invite to our Dirt Don’t Hurt event. On Thursday May 28th from 10am-1pm, we will explore the wonders of the natural world, and meet a few animals along the way. We can't wait to see you there!

* Written by Melinda Kinnear - Public Relations Intern