Connecticut College News
Students turn ´one man´s junk´ into robots03/5/2010
Moriwaki helps Andrew Nathanson ´13 build his robot.
Students rummaged through the mounds of junk - old phones, shoes, scraps of fabric, a Mr. Potato Head and even a Barbie Corvette. By the end of the evening, "one man´s junk" would be an army of robots. During Wednesday´s Scrapyard Challenge, Katherine Moriwaki, assistant professor of media design at Parsons´ New School for Design, and Jonah Brucker-Cohen, adjunct assistant professor of communications at New York University, led an intensive workshop to teach students how to create simple electronic robots out of discarded junk. Since they created the Challenge in 2003, Moriwaki and Brucker-Cohen have conducted the workshop in more than 40 locations in 14 countries. Click here to view a slide show from the Challenge. After a quick discussion of robotics and the blending of art and technology, Moriwaki and Brucker-Cohen urged the students to "dive right into the piles of junks." "There is no wrong way to do it," Moriwaki said. "It is now up to you to find something you think is interesting and to connect the wires." Students quickly began ripping apart and reconstructing plastic and metal materials to build "drawbots," small moving robots made out of two plastic cups, three markers and a motor, or noise-making machines, robots consisting of components that create electricity and sound. After 45 minutes of almost childlike fun, drawbots were creating works of art on a large white banner and noise making machines were filling the air with music while the students reflected on what they learned from their little robots. "Building robots enabled me to see how two different fields can be combined," Lucy Frye ´12, an architectural studies major, said. The robots are currently on display in Cummings 301, and are a part of the College´s Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology "Revolution: Technology as Change," a three-day symposium that gathers world renowned avant-garde artists, performers and media specialists to explore the intersection of arts, sciences, media and technology, now through March 6.