Monday, February 1, 2010

Paper Pop Ups Develop Spatial Design Skills

Christina Jenkins (left), a student at Parsons' The New School for Design and a teacher workshop presenter for the NYC Department of Education, had an interesting take on technology at Educon 2.2, the conference for tech geeks. She taught the participants how to make paper pop ups.

Christina was exploring the question "When does technology integration make sense in the classroom, and when does it not? She proposed using "design thinking" to disrupt instructional routines (like endless PowerPoint presentations) and help us rethink how we teach with technology.

Making pop ups out of paper, sometimes called paper engineering, is an excellent way to develop pathways in the brain that help students think spatially and in 3 dimensions. These are necessary skills for product designers, architects and others who deal with 3 dimensional and spatial thinking.

There are many books on how to create pop ups and many more examples of pop up books on a variety of topics (right). A few lessons in how to create a pop up card or page makes it clear that we need hands on experiences to rewire our brains to be able to think spatially and dimensionally. The degree of creativity in what at first seems like a basic "follow the instructions" exercise is startling. Paper engineering designs not only pop up but they also rotate, slide, pivot and move in a variety of surprising ways.

Pop up books are sometimes expensive to buy (one popular pop up book sells for $299) but inexpensive to make. A pair of scissors and some plain white paper are all that you need to get started.

Click on the heading above to see a video of a pop up book of the alphabet.

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