Featured Educator: Frazer Merrick at Signals

September 13, 2018

Featured Educator Series

We love the innovative ways that educators (in both formal and informal learning spaces) introduce learners to the concept of physical computing with Makey Makey and coding languages like: Scratch, Processing, and Python. Each month, we will feature an educator and a unique project they've worked on recently. To read more educator posts, simply sign up for our newsletter and we'll guide you to our best content once a month. 

Meet this month's featured educator: Frazer Merrick

Frazer is a sound artist, noise maker, Creative Director at , and Education Coordinator at .
Frazer makes all kinds of cool stuff with art, sound, and games! Check out his most recent piece, Perpetual Chimes, which he describes as,

"a set of augmented wind chimes that offer an escapist experience where your collaboration composes the soundscape. Since there is no wind indoors, the chimes require audience interaction to gently tap or waft them and encourage/nurture the hidden sounds within - triggering sounds as the chimes strike one another. Since the chimes make little acoustic noise - essentially they're broken until you collaborate with them."

He's so generous, he's even shared the Scratch game for others to remix, available here. (Don't get lost in tranquility playing these beautiful sound scapes, come back and read the rest of this post!)

Draw, Code, Go

We contacted him because of a great activity called "Draw, Code, Go" 

that caught our eye on Twitter.  In this workshop, Frazer helped youth combine their love of literacy with coding by creating interactive artworks about their favorite books. 

Tell us a little about Signals.

Signals is a digital arts charity in Colchester, England. We specialize in film education and use digital creativity for social, learning and creative outcomes. Our community projects enable disadvantaged groups to work on production projects, giving participants digital media skills. From shooting films to coding games, drawing animations to producing music - we work with groups through the whole production process to help participants realize their potential and share their stories.

Wow! That sounds like such a wonderful way to give back to your community. What is your role at Signals?

I'm one of the two Education Coordinators and I specialize in the more computer based tasked, such as physical computing, sound design, and video game making. I can often be found facilitating projects like our creative computing club or producing larger events like our digital arts festival Plug In.

We just love the concept of kids creating interactive art based on books. What inspired you?

We were approached by Hertfordshire Libraries to collaborate on their ImagiNation project, a reading and arts activity for 11-18 year olds. This project is running in 11 library authorities across the East of England. Their usual activity is to invite children to design their own book covers, so my first thought was, "How could we make these interactive?" I use Makey Makey extensively in my own work as an artist, so it was a natural fit for this concept of creating book-based interactive art. We ended up with a technology workshop but in a way that was still very physical and hands-on, and not entirely on the computer.

What was the challenge or instructions you presented to the students?

I invited the participants to think about a scene from their favorite book, then brainstorm:

    • How we could make this scene interactive?
    • Could your favorite character speak a quote when tapped?   
    • Could you make a physical puzzle game themed by the book? (for the more Scratch adept participants)


What did you like best about this workshop?

My favorite aspect of this workshop format is that it can go both ways; for those more interested in programming they can focus on something exciting in Scratch. Whereas, those more interested in arts/crafts can use the art materials to make beautiful artworks. I found the best works rely on the combination of both skills, so it also promotes collaboration between pairs with complimentary skills.

We are absolutely astounded by their work! Can you share some of your favorite Scratch games that the students made?

Check out these two!
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