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Making Activity Examples

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Overview

When preparing to facilitate a creative learning activity, it is important to think carefully about how you're setting up the learning environment. One very important component of this set-up is populating your space with a variety of example projects.

These examples should be thoughtfully designed to inspire your patrons, spark their curiosity, and support them in getting started with the activity.

In each of our PLIX activities, we include several examples and starter projects for you to use when facilitating the activity with your patrons. This document will help you to understand what goes into a good example and how to make your own!

What makes a good example?

Examples are a very important component in all of our PLIX activities. They help to provide guidance and inspiration to workshop participants, aid in troubleshooting, showcase a variety of thinking, and support creative learning and tinkering (rather than instruction).

Participants should be able to understand the activity's core concepts from the examples, but the examples themselves shouldn't be overly complex or polished. A good example is one that a participant can use as a jumping off point to start creating.

Luigi Anzivino from The Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium wrote a detailed reflection of his experience with building examples:

“[T]he best examples have fairly obvious shortcomings that generate ideas for improvement. An ideal reaction from a visitor is to think: ‘Oh, cool. But look, you could also just do this…’ Which indeed means that the perfect example is, actually… imperfect.

If you’d like to learn more about crafting good examples for creative learning workshops, check out this blogpost from our friends at the Tinkering Studio: Tinkering and the Art of the Perfect Example.

How to use examples in your programs

As a facilitator, we encourage you to think carefully and critically about what types of examples you put into your learning environment, and we recommend making several diverse examples for any workshop you run using one of our PLIX activities. Making these examples yourself is a great way to get familiar with an activity and can be a good first step for you to start feeling comfortable with the material.

During your workshop or drop-in program, make these examples available to your participants simply by scattering them around your work space with the rest of your materials. This allows participants to use the examples as a reference if they’re looking for inspiration, have a question, or choose to examine them.

As a facilitator, it is important to avoid walking your participants through every step that went into making an example or having every participant make one of the examples. Instead, simply introduce the workshop prompt or theme, let your participants know that there are materials and examples available to them, and then let people dive right in!

And remember, as a facilitator, you don’t have to have all the answers. Good examples can help with troubleshooting and questions from your participants, so don’t be afraid to refer someone to an example (or a peer’s project) if they’re stuck!

How-to guides for making PLIX activity examples

Step-by-step instructions for making your own PLIX activity examples, which have been thoughtfully designed to inspire your participants to start creating!

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How-To: Make Examples for Paper Circuits⚡
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How-To: Make Examples for Scratch+micro:bit 👾
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How-to: Make Examples for Inflatables 📏

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PLIX Tip: Remember, like all PLIX resources, we encourage you to use these materials as a jumping off point — feel free to remix and modify to suit your local community! And if you try something new, we'd love to hear about it on the PLIX Discussion Forum.

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The Public Library Innovation Exchange (PLIX) is a project of the MIT Media Lab Digital Learning & Collaboration Studio. Except where otherwise noted, all materials on this site are licensed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license. Accessibility.