It's painfully obvious that I grew up in the south when I get excited over 1/2" of snow (mind yer snickering, Boston-folk), but I should also add that our lab closes when schools close. That means I have at least one day of peace and quiet. Ahhhhh.... Well, apart from the racket caused by the construction next door anyway.

Life at C4K is chugging along nicely. Our recruiting has been up and down (12 last month, but only 4 this month), but the ups seem to have been enough as the lab feels more full than when the year first started. Workshop attendance is still relatively low (3-4 on average), but those that do go seem to enjoy it. I've also started gravitating towards guided activities versus class settings. The more successful workshops have been things like making popup cards, CD art, posters, etc. I've been trying workshops that lead into the tougher topics like digital video and audio with things like dubbing and digital storytelling, but we're still having a tough time getting kids to try them.

One of the neater programs thats starting up is a web development project led by a web design firm. They've offered to volunteer their time and expertise to train a select group of kids to rebuild a website by offering weekly workshops, but it'd be mostly up to the kids to design the site and figure out what they'd like to do. I'm guessing it'll take some gentle prodding to get them going, but we have some really good kids that are attending so I think this particular program has a good chance at doing well.

My random side project for this month is looking into revamping our inventory system. What normally happens is that after all the information is logged into the database, we put a numbered yellow sticker on the components. However, this tends not to work so well for tracking and logging, so I'm looking into rigging up a cheap barcoding system. I picked up some of those cheapie Cue Cat barcode scanners ('fixed' with CatNip) for use as the input and a free barcode font to create stickers for output. Works pretty well so far, except now comes the hard part of coding an Access form in VBA to automate the procedures. Blech. Code.

Looks like we've got a bunch of cool new VISTAs, welcome everyone and best of luck to you in your year of service!

Comment from lauren bratslavsky on February 1, 2007 - 1:27pm

Hey Raymond-

what are your guided activities like for your workshops? And are they contained within one workshop day or over a course of time? I'm working on our youth media lab here in Cincinnati and looking for ideas to for weekly, self-contained activities. Do you have anything written up? I have two activities so far, I'ld be happy to share them too.

And great ingenuity with the barcode system!

Comment from Raymond Varona on February 2, 2007 - 11:38am

Workshops are typically 1.5-2 hours in length and tend to be more like guided activities than formal instructional classes. I usually spend less than 30 minutes on instruction with the rest of the time spent with one-on-one guidance as they work through the main project. I've been on and off about writing things up, but can easily dig through my notes and get back to churning out materials. Here's a list of the workshops I've offered thus far, or at least the ones that I still have notes for:

  • Voice Recording and Manipulation
  • Silent Movie Making
  • Poster Design
  • Photoshop Composites (your head on a movie poster)
  • 3D Imaging (using Bryce)
  • CD Burning
  • CD Case Art
  • Computer Hardware (assembling computers from individual components)
  • Digital Photography (camera use, retouching and enhancement, "glamour shots")
  • Dubbing (recording dialogue over movie clips)
  • Fonts (finding and installing custom fonts, text properties and effects in various apps)
  • Greeting Cards (popup cards)
  • iMac Intro/ComicLife
  • GIMP Intro
  • Fashion w/ Photoshop (use of masks/layers to change colors/textures)
  • Photoshop Intro
  • Digital Painting (w/ Photoshop)
  • Music Remixing (w/ Garageband)
  • Webpage Design (basics w/ Dreamweaver)
  • Rotoscoping (Animating a lightsaber onto DV footage)


If there's any in particular that you're interested in let me know and I'll look to getting those written up.