‘oh Brother, where art thou? – at the @coolestprojects turtlestitch atelier in Dublin, Ireland.
Richard Millwood, Visiting Fellow at CRITE in TCD, founding member of the Computational Thinking 4 Life (http://ct4life.scss.tcd.ie/) group, and current coordinator of the CESI Computer Science community of practice was one of the busiest humans at Coolest Projects on Saturday May 26th in the RDS, Dublin. Once he had set up his electronic Brother sewing machine and left some laptops open at the Turtlestitch coding website, curious youngsters – and some oldsters – began coding their designs, saving them, and taking them to Richard who helped them choose fabric and thread and setting up the machine to print each individual design. Many happy visitors went away proudly showing off their swatch decorated with their own coded design.
Turtlestitch is the brainchild of Andrea Mayr-Stalder, who had the smart idea to merge turtle logo programming with the workings of her electronic embroidery machine. The story is at turtlestitch.org and is about to be launched as a crowdfunded project so that progress to date can be maintained.
Most youngsters who visited our atelier were familiar with Scratch block based programming. Turtlestitch is based on SNAP! so the Scratchers had no hesitation in diving in. Very very useful were Jennifer Lin’s starter cards, which outline some very basic designs and can be a supportive scaffold to hesitant beginners. Having them on offer was invaluable to me who’s role was “guide on the side” (as was John Hegarty, who called to say hello but was swiftly press-ganged into work).
Success in bringing each piece of work from programming thru file transfer to final production took patience and persistence, as sometimes more than one cycle was necessary to achieve a desired outcome; this was interesting to watch. One parent in particular caught our attention – she had visited and observed as her two children took their turn, but returned herself later and worked out, for her first time ever, the code for a gorgeous geometric design. Go, Helen!
Thanks to Coolest Projects liaison Peter O’Shea for inviting Turtlestitch to partake – it was a great experience for all those who took part.