Shrink Circuits Uncanny Laboratory (SCUL) is a transportable workshop for teaching anyone the fundamentals of product design and solderless electrical circuits. I organize 1-3 hour project-based workshops that let participants create and build their own robots, synthesizers, board games, desk lamps, and other fun projects. We use shrink plastic as a main constructing substrate, because it easy to work with, can be readily changed to suit radically different project needs, and, once it has been baked and shrunken, is a permanent, water-proof, durable substance that can be used for practical, mechanical design applications. The project materials are all provided for participants, and utilize techniques that do not require advanced learning or previous experience. The idea is to empower participants in the experience of creating a functioning device of their own design, working to develop project specifications that suit particular uses that they imagine. Participants become acquainted with the "language" of design, even as they articulate their own vision in the unique shapes and forms their project takes. Because we emphasize accessible, safe methods and materials, participants learn to jump into the challenge of "making" or inventing without fear of failure. Things can repaired, processes can be redone, and SCUL lets participants experience the benefits from failures or mistakes during rapid iteration and prototyping. Some SCUL projects may end up departing entirely from the schematics, Arduino code or provided starting points of the project to arrive at some new invention - all the better! The SCUL begins with a group of 5-25 participants who are given materials, supplies, some helpful guidelines and the basic knowledge required to complete the project. At the end of every SCUL workshop, participants leave with a functioning electronic device that they made. We have taken SCUL to Maker Faires and MakerSpaces around the world, now we hit the streets of Portland!
Funded by Portland, OR (April 2014)