Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Collaborative games/example with string for #CLMOOC

As I jumped into Terry Elliott's Thoreau Game in the #CLMOOC, creating a HackPad for String Games, Terry challenged me:
  • Can we use a particular string game to analyze or deconstruct? How about to empower? How does it empower with its string design?  I have lots of questions to tease out that deep deep knowing that rests within you and yearns to be free.
Here's a first response:

First activity: find a group of 3 or more people. Make a string figure length loop of string, about 1 meter or a little more than a yard in length (you can also use the rule of thumb: hold the string in one hand, stretch out the other hand, and as far apart as your hands reach, plus a few inches, is good for most figures and accounts for differences in handspan) for each person.

Then make another piece of string that long enough so that all the people in the group can stand in a circle and loop their own piece of string over the bigger loop:

Making a star with string

This group in the photo above is not following my directions! 

But they didn't make any mistakes, either--

In fact, the shot is from an open exploration session with middle school students, where after some group instruction in a new figure they were given time to explore in my collection of string figure books, and this figure attracted the most attention and participation by the largest group.

If they had done it right, each point of the interior pentagon would be formed by a single string, looped over the center but with each end held in a different hand. Then each person reaches out to each side to hold hands, and as they do they form the points on the star.

This works with any number of people, who then form a polygon with the same number of sides as people. I just did it as the introduction to a professional development session, with the observation that we had to be equalizing the tension and the spacing of our loops to make the geometric figure look right. 

The biggest obstacle I face when confronted with the idea of games is how competition is embedded in so much of the discussion. What I like are collaborative games. I love the way this one is extensible to any size group!