Interest of the day

PLAYfest 2021

morreale Thursday 11 of February, 2021

PLAYfest 2021 was just wonderful. It was held on January 28-29, 2021 online and was created by AnnMarie Thomas at the University of St. Thomas. Dr. Thomas runs the Playful Learning Lab and created the idea last summer as a result of the lack of interactions due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Friday session had a morning speaker session, workshops, a break, and then an afternoon speaker session and workshops. In the evening, the PLAY-full party commenced with activities and breakout sessions to meet conference attendees. The schedule on Saturday was similar with morning speakers and workshop. The afternoon consisted of additional speakers and breakout networking sessions.

Speakers included a filmmaker, maker, author, puppeteer, the CEO of LEGO, education research specialist, artist, digital fabricationist, educator, mathematician, musician, museum consultant, ecologist, critic, writer, Dean of engineering, novelist, and a director of special education. It was a fascinating conference.

Workshop Topics included working with LEGO, building a solar oven, creative thinking, building a robot, leaving things undone, novel engineering, making short films, visual story telling, Plantonic solids, paper circuits, FIRST robotics, fluids, animation, supporting parents and families in public spaces, 3D printing, circuits, pixel art, drawing, working with paper, creating a video poem, exoplanets, zoom, P5.JS programming, mathematics, interactive digital tools for story telling, engineering with paper, dancing with AI, rap, Draw2code, word play, building 3D models with cardboard, and how to fail to name a few.

My short course conflicted with Session 1, Workshop A, and Session 2 so I missed some good talks, unfortunately. I was happy to learn that I could attend Eyes on Exoplanets by Rachel Zimmerman Brachman during the Friday afternoon workshops. It started with a tour of the solar system and worked out to a number of exoplanets (see the NASA links below).

I chatted with folks during the PLAY-full party in Zoom breakout rooms. I learned a lot about 3D printing from Joan Horvath from Noscriptum who writes books and runs workshops on 3D printing (see 3D Printing links below).

The speakers on Saturday were fascinating and I attended the Play with Code: The Joy of P5.js workshop by Carol Willing. p5.js is an open source JavaScript library (based on Processing.js) used to teach coding and has drawing capabilities. It runs in a web IDE so there is no setup. There is a large user community that has built a toolkit for computer-aided musicology, and Google AI has the p5.js TensorFlow project for studying machine learning, for example (see p5.js links below).


3D Printing




Playful Learning Lab