Public Lab Research note

"IT'S A MAP!" @ Beam Camp, NH

by oscarbrett | August 01, 2012 21:12 01 Aug 21:12 | #3068 | #3068

"IT'S A MAP!"– a course (known as a Domain here at beam camp) was designed to introduce kids to mapping as more than just a way to get where you're going. In "IT'S A MAP!" Campers were encouraged to see maps less as factual geographic explanations and more as learning tools to help them explore ways of expressing and interpreting themselves, our worlds and the relationships between them.

The "domain" consisted of two 1.5 hour meetings over the course of three days.

DAY ONE— looked like a seminar crashed into a studio course. We had a short discussion about how maps can be seen as both helpful and hurtful; many campers brought up concerns surrounding war and military occupation. We talked further about how maps should be viewed skeptically. One camper vocalized that maps couldn't possibly capture all the physical realities of a place; and that while at one "far away" level (on google earth) a road looks straight but at a closer level that road takes on twisty characteristics. We extrapolated this idea to encompass how a smooth looking rock looks incredibly cragged under a microscope and concluded that all "things" are "infinitely" expandable and reducible. And that scale is among one of the most important "things".

We conducted three exercises. We gave campers black outlines of a brain and asked them to map how they worked // We gave campers simple maps of the camps geography and asked them to fill in where they felt things were // We projected the same simple maps of camp geography and asked pairs of campers to explore their "day" at camp.

One camper was instructed to talk about a day they had at camp and the other camper was asked to use paint to document that day; the idea of using color coding was suggested.

We then worked feverishly around the prompt "Make a map."

DAY TWO— We began forging geo-spatial signage to be placed around camp. Signs broke down as either directional arrows or place based placards.

The placards feature information about key spots around camp. Each placard has specific geographic (latitude/ longitude) coordinate points relating to the space as well as the spaces altitude (supplied by google earth).

The directional arrows shows the distance between a central location at beam (the fork in the main road) and key points of interest.

DAY THREE— Zoning is the word; kids were pushed to think of space as spheres with (firm to loosely) defined program. Using sports field making spray paint we highlighted boarders between contentious zones at camp (between the dining hall zone and a social zone called "the rooster"), created simple systems for socio-spatial organization (a line for cueing up during sports games), and even established a suggested maximum seating capacity for a log.

IN CONCLUSION— Kids and maps definitely go great together and mapping should be worked into early child hood education, as early as possible, as a way to help kids explore their relationship with physical and social space.


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