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Big Draw Day – Taking a line for a walk!!

One of the pictures shown to the students at the beginning of the day to give them an idea of Keith Haring’s work.

On Wednesday 24th November, our school took part in the national Big Draw Day. The day focuses on a particular artist and their work and it gives the opportunity for students to participate in a range of cross-curricular lessons based on the artists work. This year the focus was on the work of graffiti and visual artist Keith Haring. Based around Haring’s work, students were encouraged to take a line for a walk and this was the main focus for the day.

An example of the art that can be created using the Line Sketch application.

My colleague Keith Manville (@open_sen) had been working with on a application based around generative art and between us we looked at the possibility of running this as a workshop for the day. The aim would be for the student to create their own art using ICT and this would be achieved by taking a line for a walk. An example of how the sketch runs is shown in the video below:

The program runs automatically and the user controls the change of colour by either pressing the ‘space bar’ for a random colour choice, ‘m’ for monochrome and ‘b’ for black. In addition the user can pause the sketch at any time and the application allows for the user to export their image as a jpeg. This application was coded in Processing which you can read more about in an earlier post here.

We found that the simplicity of the program meant that a wide range of students could access the application and create some beautiful pieces of art.

Alongside this, we decided to run a kinect session based on some of the applications that we have found, which have been coded in Processing. The programs we used were created by Amnon Owed and they are based around using the kinect to detect the user and interact with the images on-screen. More information on how these are coded can be found in his useful tutorial here.

The first one we used was the Kinect Flow application which turns the user into a wavy line polygon and will track the movement across the screen. What I noticed for this application was the instant attraction for some of our ASC students using it. They wanted to explore what happened to the image when they moved their body. This was really interesting as these students would shy away from taking part in physical activity, but were really active during this session.

Example image of what the user experiences on-screen from the Kinect Flow application

The second application, again created by Amnon Owed, pours shapes over you. The user can use their body to collect them and bat them away. The tracking is very good with this app and I found that it even worked for wheelchair users. Also the app would pick up two users so was good for collaborative teamwork between students.

Example image of the user collecting shapes in the Kinect Physics application

After we had run the sessions, we had some time to reflect on the day and overall we felt the students had enjoyed the different applications that they had experienced. In terms of the line art sketch app, we found that students enjoyed making the art and were putting thought into when they should change the colours. However some students found that they could exit the app by pressing the ESC key and this is something that we will disable in future versions of the app (reminded me of students exiting apps on the iPad before guided access was added)

The kinect applications we used were not specifically designed with SEN students in mind though the natural user interface of the kinect allowed the students to instantly pick up what they had to do. It has given me some food for thought when it comes to coding my own applications for the students and developed my understanding of how to code for the kinect. If you are interested in learning more about using the kinect with SEN visit the excellent wiki being developed by group of schools using this tech with their students :

I found Big Draw Day, motivated me to continue to code and make applications for our students. The sessions continued to show, how these application encourage creativity, movement, engagement and exploration. To finish I was going to leave you with a video of a application that I am currently coding – no where near the finished product but gives you a flavor of some of the applications we hope to create.

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