Recent breakthroughs in DIY (do it yourself) methods, low-cost technologies, and online sharing tools have enabled people to participate in science in new and unexpected ways. This course examines science practice beyond professional settings. How do members of the general public engage with scientific issues? How can science practice take root in hackspaces, art studios, garages, or across social media platforms? What new discoveries, tools, and artistic expressions can be enabled when science becomes more open source, democratic, and DIY? We will examine initiatives ranging from low-cost environmental monitoring, food science, and DIY biology, to grassroots efforts that communicate professional research to policy makers or the public. Our materially-oriented work will result in speculative design artifacts themed around public engagement with science.
To enroll, register for AME 82186.
The topic for my final project was Animal Testing. The reason why chose Animal Testing was because of the many controversies surrounding the topic. Typing the words Animal Testing in a search engine usually gave me two things. One, you have people creating articles depicting Animal Testing as bad and unnecessary. However, the other side was quite the opposites, showing the benefits of animal testing and how it lead to the developing of many life saving cures and treatments. For my final artifact, I created a Management Game where you play as the Director of a Animal Testing Research Facility. You are entrusted with managing your research facility, choosing what methods of research to what kind of animals will be used for animal testing. The goal for this projects was to have the experience the hardships and challenges of an Animal Testing Director.
The feedback was very helpful and would’ve like to implement all the things that were suggested. The main goal is to make the experience very engaging and simple and I believe I was able to accomplish that during showcase.
I also wanted to be as neutral as possible when designing the game, meaning I didn’t intend to present something that depicted animal testing as either good nor bad. I wanted show what it’s like inside a research facility that conducts animal testing. I tried to simplify the mechanics for the game for two reasons, one simply because of the time constraints. I was afraid if I added too many game mechanics, I wouldn’t have been able to finish it in time. The second reason is that I designed the game to be a prototype. Simplicity came into mind when designing this game. Because of that, it took some time to decide what mechanics to present and if they make sense. After this semester, I plan to expand the game further, redesigning and implementing other things. I believe this game proved to be effective in depicting the life a researcher. I might change the topic of the game from animal testing to research in general. I believe this project has a lot of potential and can’t wait to work on it again during the break.
All in all, I really enjoyed working on this project, I ran into some obstacles but as a result discovered new ways of implementing and other things. Maybe when I finish the new version of this game, I can upload it on this blog or keep you guys posted on my progress via email.
For my final project I decided to explore the future possibilities of plastics in the human body. Right now scientists are becoming alarmed at how widespread microplastics are not only in the natural environment, but our food chain and even our bodies. We breathe, ingest, and come into contact with plastic at every turn. However, the issue is that scientists are not sure about the short- or long- term health effects that micrplastics will have on our bodies. This situation does not bode well considering research shows that microplastics can harm the digestive system of other animals and cause their livers to have to work harder. While this is a very real concern, I didn’t want to condemn plastics entirely and even consider how they could be seen as beneficial as part of the body.
With these issues in mind, I created Plastic Futures, a speculative design that uses collaborative storytelling to explore the topic and generate discussion. It uses the “crazyboard” trope from crime and thriller stories as a way of representing future possibibilities. In the fiction, there is a conspiracy about a laboratory accident, missing scientist, and a machine that can provide glimpses of the future. Players make connections between clues shown on the board to construct narratives that hopefully incorporate the issues surrounding plastics just mentioned.
Plastic Futures is based on an interactive installation developed with other collaborators this year. This version makes a departure by shifting from a “crazyboard” to what looks like a “murder board”. The design is meant to make it a “found artifact”, one that hides darker secrets and higher degree of mental instability. The facts, dates, and calculations written in marker on the board are meant to show the evolving ideas of the missing professor who at first saw the dangers of microplastics in the human body then had an epiphany, seeing that entire limbs could be plastic and therefore, useful, as shown in the cryptic saying that appears many times, “A tool, is a tool, is a tool.” This was actually an insight I had when creating one of the narratives that I would make clues for.
The class provided useful feedback on this project. They suggested providing players a card with questions that they needed to answer by examining the board. This could direct them to certain aspects of the game that are important. But, as one classmate pointed out, this could take away from the open ended nature of the project. How much to guide and structure the interaction is an aspect of design that I continue to work with and will explore.
For my final project I decided to do an infomercial with my 3D prints. As discussed in class I decided to rely on footage found online instead of filming an actual person using these because I wanted to make the video as impartial as possible. Usually in infomercials the goal is to sell the product and this was not what I wanted, my goal was to make sure an idea was being communicated without persuading the viewer to either want to download a “weapon” or not. This also made me rely on a comedic approach as I still wanted to stay true to the infomercial feel which lead to me “selling the ad” and not the 3D prints themselves.
It was an overall very interesting experience where I was able to learn how infomercials are structured and the amount of persuasion that goes in them. This also made me reflect on the lack of regulations surrounding 3D printing, not just in the designs you can download , but how easy it is to make the prints themselves. In this way I think my infomercial can be a great discussion starter and make the viewer reflect on what should we be able to 3D print.
LINK to video! : https://youtu.be/64CtGICIu28
I created an online space for my third artifact, called “Plasticfree Plaza”, where people interested in reducing plastic waste can gather.
For this site, I designed a framework, providing the issue resolution action plan, as you can see the three menu of the site. I organized the menu to convey this framework of “your challenge”, “help out”, and “advocate”, very easily. The site logo is also designed to remind people of these three actions.
- Briefly, ‘your challenge’ as for individual effort is based on my practice of collecting plastic garbage over a week to help find my own ways to reduce reliance on plastic uses that can be kept sustainably.
- The ‘help out’ is a kind of work session to think about the value of plastic through the plastic exchange and the upcycling work.
- Lastly, carefully selected curation was made for ‘advocate’ page, among numerous pieces of scattered information on plastic waste. In this page, I introduce from the awakening media coverage on plastic waste, to heroes and supporters in our society.
This site looks simple, but it took a lot of time to design, select, and curate information.
For those who are interested in reducing plastic waste and preserving the environment but are not able to move into action, I hope this site will helpful and useful to explore, and give them opportunity to think about plastic waste once more, especially through the participation sessions!
Thank you for the helpful feedback today and all the fruitful discussion over this semester!
Today we share the last class of Public Participation in Science, as well we experience Melting island proposal.
With the maps of Tuvalu and Toga, as well as melting Vanuatu, we discuss climate change, at the moments that the ice from our coups and poles was melting by the heat. For me, the conversation was a moment of deep attention, with a respectful reflexion and an intense atmosphere. In my perception, those fragile models of Vanuatu’s islands were more affective than effective, distorting the enviroment in the first moment of deep contemplation about the systemic effects of capitalism.
Andrew (H) break the ice, sharing some feelings about disappearing places, introducing us a new flavor of nostalgia. Ale shared about Cancun post-disaster reconstruction, and a conversation about Real State in coastal Florida situated the feeling in an American setting. Mathew looks in the materiality and resources of this communities. Then, Hessun reflects about our understandings of the fragility and sensing, and Julian confess cracking the melting ice in his consumption.
This exercise of critical design is not speculative. The current consumption of climate change, “as a narrative and as a product” (as Andrew wisely described) It’s a current act about the limits of our planet, the ways of living and the relevance of became an aware actor in the constellation of situations that contribute to climate change. As Andrew (R), who restrict his meat consumption, this artifact asks for the far-est consequence of our direct mode of existences in late capitalism.
I want to confess that the emotional reaction of the class for me was super unexpected. The silence which emerges, the contemplation space and the slow movements illustrate a deep feeling in our classroom. In addition, the experience is for me illustrative of the power of the artifact to grasp our awareness about these communities, places, and phenomenon at the same time, translating the ice in a multiplicity of discourses, self-contained in the glass and expressed by the meaningful experience.
I hope this experience was so powerful for you, as was to me. Thanks you.
This artifact is a work of speculative fiction, design, and curation, taking the audience into an alternate timeline in which the discovery of the climate-changing effects of carbon dioxide by Guy Stewart Callendar were understood and taken seriously, particularly by America. Instead of decades of denial and delay, driven by business interests and the psychological difficulty of making costly investments to prevent a far off and difficult to conceive of calamity, America framed the climate disaster as already present, requiring urgent remedy. The nation sprung into action in a style reminiscent of our idealized memories of mass mobilization during the world wars, instituting a green draft, national service, and aggressive curtailing of polluting industry. 100 years later (an alternate 2060) the imaginary Guy Steward Callendar Memorial Museum of the Climate hosts a small exhibition of the vibrant propaganda that drove citizen engagement in this mobilization.
Five posters explore varied elements of this mobilization. Citizens are encouraged to enlist in national environmental service, to labor to build carbon fixing soil, to leave oil in the ground, to report smoke and emissions to authorities, and to organize their neighborhoods. These collective and productive actions are meant to contrast with the many ways we are told to respond to climate change by altering our individual consumption (changing our light bulbs, eating less meat, driving less). Note also that they posters do not frame their demands as acts of prevention, but rather containment, cleanup, protection and prohibition.
In its self-skepticism and political disengagement, science has allowed climate change to be defined by a vocabulary that enables inaction. This artifact shows us an alternate approach, and asks us whether the window for such a mobilization has passed or may still be possible, through a Green New Deal or other dynamic acts of big government.
If you’d like to see the conversation taking place around these images online, check out my Twitter post.
This post wants to summarize the processes that I made to elaborate my artifact.
- Initially, I begin with the research about culture and geography of Vanuatu. This island country in the South Pacific Ocean with 270,000 inhabitants in 12,189 km2 (4,706 sq mi). Also, is one of the places in which SolarSPELL is implemented.
- With this information, I look for the geographical information of the country, to develop a 3D model. The initial data is a USGS data from the country. Using ArcGIS software, this is produced in a raster tif archive, filtered to show the height of the selected area.
- The selected area was modified for an stl archive to prepare the 3D model. The first model was modified in a vertical exaggeration in a factor of 7.5, because of the short altitude of an island in the model. Here the collaboration of Mattew Toro (Map and Geospacial Hub) aims me to get rid of this challenge of scale.
- I print in the AME maker space the 3D model, using a high-resolution printer to get the geographical details that can be represented by the modified raster 3D model.
- With this information, I used a silicone plastique in two phases, to when is mixed, can be molded and produce a shape. Jennifer Weiler shares this material with me. After covering the 3D print model with the plastique, took 1 hour in be complete polymerize.
- With this, I produce Ice cubes tray and the ices with the shape of Vanuatu. This takes 45 minutes in be frozen in each iteration.
- Finally, I prepare a natural mango juice, because is one of the most popular fruits that Vanuatu produces. In addition, I look for maps to prepare the setting of the conversation:
- How we can make more awareness about the systemic effects of climate change in island communities?
- For me, this artifact connects poles melting with the sea arise level, as well with the effect of climate change in the geographies, communities, and places. Think about (close-)futures climates refugees is something that is necessary, but also is direct compelling to current effect, that happens during our conversations, pushing a tension between doing and thinking.
For my final artifact project I picked the political topic of education reform. Currently the education system in the United States is very broken. Social, Economic, and other types of inequality lead to a wide range of varying schooling success with many of our schools on the lower, less effective, end of the spectrum. Research has also found that the style in which education is being taught is not the most effective way of learning. These issues need to be discussed and taken into serious consideration when talking about educational reform.
One method of teaching with real proven success is the idea of project based learning. This is when the teachers teaches a set lesson plan to their students through solving a real world issue. For my artifact I am going to lead a project based learning workshop. One of the issue commonly discussed is that the layout of the typical classroom is not designed for optimal learning. For example Students sitting at desk isolated by themselves tend to lose focus easily, however when sitting at tables and working collaboratively on the project at hand they tend to stay focused better and are more engaged with the work. For our project based learning workshop we are going to redesign a classroom for optimal learning, a real world issue directly related to education reform. To effectively solve this issue we need to brain storm as a large group what needs to be done and how best to do it. From their we will break up into small groups and do our best to blue print a new classroom. This project, aside from solving a real and important issue, will also teach us the applications of math techniques such as finding the area of a room. We will learn other useful skills as well such as budgeting, space planning, and more.
The problem we have to solve seems relatively simple. The constants given are a 1024 square foot classroom. 20 kids per class, and a $10,000 dollar budget. With these constants in mind and based on our group brain storm sessions, what does each group think needs to be done to best rearrange the classroom for optimal learning while allowing for the most use of space and the cheapest cost?
Below are some links to videos I found of people seriously trying to solve this issue.
Hello, this is a friendly reminder for Plastic Exchange in our class tomorrow!
Please don’t forget to bring plastic objects/products that you may not currently use but you may want to throw out or exchange with others!
For my third artifact, I’ve researched and gathered information about different solutions and efforts to reduce plastic waste. Current practices and examples to reduce plastic waste in daily life are also important, but I realized that their simple methods like “Skip the straws or do not use plastic bags” can not be the ultimate solution. I found out that this is one of the contentious issue we face around reducing plastic waste. Although this problem requires not only individual effort, but national level system and global agreement on plastic waste, current practices and campaigns seem somewhat sporadic, sloppy and not very systemic.
Thus, we need a systemic view for reducing plastic waste and I’d like to make a framework and documents for my third artifact 1) to improve the practice in daily life with the rules that individuals can keep, 2) to link to promote campaigns, sharing with other people, and 3) to raise awareness of the problems that the international community face.
This framework will not just show some ways to reduce plastic waste. I’d like to contribute to make knowledge for make our efforts sustainable and united into one. Environmental problems are basically related to our lifestyle. I want to make people be able to recognize that someone who has suffered from my “convenience”, it would be the nature, and make to change our habits for it.
I also spent last week to get diagnosis for myself by gathering plastic waste in order to set my own rules. I have identified what plastic waste I can reduce and I choose the plastic disposable cups to reduce. The important criteria is “sustainability of the practice”.
In a following week, I will find a way to link from my practices to the campaign, and also raise public awareness on the international challenge to reduce plastic waste.
Plus, please don’t forget to bring plastic object/product that you may not currently use but you may want to throw out/exchange with others!