Kategoriarkiv: AFSNIT I

These are posts about AFSNIT I and Fonokolab

Winning the prize, … and learning 4 lessons!!!

by composer and project leader Casper Hernández Cordes

Six days at an innovation camp, sleeping on the floor in a former hospital, eating in a cold tent outdoors (November is a cold acquaintance at these latitudes!), and we can now talk about “the prize winning project” Fonokolab!

Fonokolab winning the prize

Which is a great thing!! With this award, the project will have a huge advantage in the coming time, and it will definitely help us open doors to take it much further! We had not expected to win a price, and it is fantastic. It is however far from being the only good thing we bring from the innovation camp.

The mere fact of participating, being selected as one of 23 projects out of 116 applicants, has given the project a complete boost. Participating in the camp has driven the project from being a one man project, the one man being …. me, to a project that has attracted a team of highly skilled people, working closely with a school class and their dedicated teachers, Betti and Martin.

The project has been exposed to very diverse situations, each of which has helped us getting a clearer idea about the potential and possible weaknesses of Fonokolab. One of the central questions has been how people can actually learn using Fonokolab. Here, I would like to invite you to hear about the different actors, that have been into play in our story, and what we have learned from them.

The first actor entering the stage: The crew!

In the three weeks where we have been preparing and facilitating workshops for the 6th graders, the crew has played a tremendous role in developing concepts and ideas. My own prioritization has been to go step wise, introducing parts of the concept of Fonokolab in a way, where the work with the tool itself was taking place at the camp. This meant that the crew members – and the pupils – were actually not introduced to what I myself consider the core of Fonokolab, until the very end of the project….: the tool, with sound, animation and movement, using smartphones etc. “So THIS is what it’s about!!” was the reaction from the crew.

Why didn’t I introduce the core before? Does it make sense to progress step wise, – linearly – when working with a concept that is fundamentally cyclic? Was I nervous that the concept wouldn’t work? Whatever the reason: the reaction from crew members was positive. To an extent where I can now say WE, and it actually makes sense. The crew members, Joanne, Sorin and Kristine have seen a project and have gained a sense of ownership to it. They have been the first ones to try and understand how Fonokolab can be used, and how this can be communicated to others.

Lesson learned: GO FOR THE CORE. Stop beating around the bush, and show what the project is fundamentally about. Fonokolab is about learning through sound.

The second actor at the stage:

The pupils!! At numerous occasions we have experienced how working with these young people has been a generator for new ideas and ways of doing.

Innovating through kid-brain-wiring

This is a photo from the camp, where I am working with a group of 4 pupils. After introducing Fonokolab, showing the mechanics of the digital tool, I suggest to the group that we start making a game, using the theme of a mouth, teeth, tongue etc. These two boys being “teeth”, however, interrupts me, saying that they are going to fence. Two teeth banging together? A new game, illustrating a part of digestion has been created: teeth biting, cake trying to avoid being bitten, going back and forth, “saliva” moving around teeth in figure eight.

At another point, a group of 5 kids moving on the floor each one with a smartphone controlling an animation and it’s sound. One boy suggests that all close their eyes. Me thinking, without saying: it will never work, they are going to bang their heads on the walls!! The group tried the suggestion, and we discovered a new thing: We were actually able to guide our movements according to the sound space created by the sounds in Fonokolab. The distance and position vis-a-vis the loudspeakers was a fully functional system of sustaining the group within a defined space, – and avoiding collisions!

Lesson learned: Wiring the brains of school kids to problem solving processes ads some completely new and unexpected solutions. The spontaneity and I-don’t-give-a-damn-attitude of the pupils helped us go places we wouldn’t have gone mostly because of our tendency to think in totalities and being too risk aware.

Let’s give them an applause!!

Now for our next actor on stage: The audience!!

Presenting Fonokolab at the innovation camp meant meeting various people from all kinds of backgrounds. Although there were not an enormous amount of audience, we definitely did learn a few lessons from those who came. For example there was a sound engineer, a father to an eight year old boy, and though the latter scolded his father saying, “you are NOT at work”, we got a very useful hint. Our way of creating a 2d sound space had so far been using volume an panning. Which is actually not working perfectly. This sound engineer suggested we look at fase as a parameter instead of volume. This should create an illusion of distance, and we could keep volume at a neutral level. There is certainly a path to follow there!

We also had a doctor, a nurse, an engineer, a school headmaster, and a lot of different kinds of people visiting our exhibition. All of them were able to contribute with valuable suggestions, about possible target groups, topics, and learning methods.

Lesson learned: Exposing your project to a great variety of professions will add new perspectives, and enhance different aspects of the project, both regarding form, content and design.

Applause for the audience!

Next actor: The coaches!

At AFSNIT I we had the opportunity to meet with to groups of coaches, and adding the two juries who visited us, we had a lot of exposure to critical and  competent eyes. Our first coaching session helped us clarifying a very central point: Is Fonokolab a product or a service. During the session it became clear, that what Fonokolab does is so far from the reality of the standard class room, that even if we made a material that would explain everything, and even if we developed the digital interfaces, carefully embedding the concepts, so the user would be guided to make “the right choices”, the way of working that Fonokolab suggests is so foreign that the teachers definitely will need our facilitation.

The next coaching session led us in a surprising direction. So far, we had had the idea that Fonokolab would be used with what ever topic the class worked with. And it would involve any kind of learning. Through the coaches’ critical questions we came to see that this approach really didn’t make sense. Our focus has been sharpened and we are now able to see that we need to find 1-3 specific topics to work with. At this moment, we are considering the topic “Natur og Teknik” (science) to be a possible primary candidate. And what about learning? Does Fonokolab help in any kind of learning? No of course not. The second thing we learned was to ask in which situations Fonokolab does facilitate learning.

Lesson learned: Well actually, I had expected that we were going to be dragged through the usual stuff about how to make a business plan, and where to find the money, but what happened was the focus was on our basic concepts, and this is actually the most relevant place to put the focus. This happened, apparently, since the moment that it became clear that Fonokolab is not a scalable product, but a service..

Applause for the coaches and the juries!!

Next stage to enter: Collaborations with Danish schools, with researchers, with cultural and educational organisations!


FONOKOLAB AT THE CAMP, What’s it gonna be?

Day one and two: We got there, we found our room, we saw it was quite small, we brain stormed on how to present Fonokolab and how to exhibit our experiences with the 6th grade class. We had a coaching session. We met the other participants. We ate in a cold tent outdoors. We slept in a hospital. The name of our room at the hospital: “Forundersøgelse” (=prior examination). On the door: a piece of paper with “Fonokolab”, handwritten. The paper was a document from 1995 signed by a family member of a Viggo Nikolajsen, born 1901, dead 1995. The document was about what Viggo left when dead: DKK 388,44, a watch.

Our exhibition: Outside the room, three walls. A wall show casing the things that the 6th graders made. A wall about Fonokolab. And a wall about the senses. Inside the room: Fonokolab, the tool. On the walls: The processes for the schools: 1) choose a theme (digestion, the Alpes, algebra, German) 2) Build an instrument, 3) Gamify! 4) etc etc.

Today, Thursday, day 3: Getting the texts and photos and objects on the walls. Prepare for tomorrow where the class will come visit us!!


Mouth-o-graphy – trashimation. Video log 10!

Now it is time for the 6th graders to start making the scenographys of each their part of digestion. In order to help them tune in to the what we are going to do at the innovation camp, I decided to make an example: Using our mouth-game from last session, I made a “mouth-o-graphy” using trash.

Watch this video and see how trash becomes actors and stage for a game, that allows the pupils to create the voices of the “actors” (tongue, teeth, cake, saliva), and live animate them using smartphones.

Read more about Fonokolab at AFSNIT I here.

Check the other video logs from the project:

Video log 9, where you can see the 6th graders try out our gamification of digestion, – through sound!

 Video log 8, where you can meet the crew, and see them innovate their way to a game about digestion.



Gamifying Digestion II, the Game! Video log 9

Does gamification inspire 12 year olds to want know more about digestion? Can we make a game where sound is an essential part of the game’s dna? Do teenagers find our game design utterly boring?

See for yourself!

Check this video, and see 6th grade getting their senses awakened, and engage in our game:

So the game? In order to gamify the processe of chewing food and swallowing it, we made a sort of remix of the good old blind man’s buff, though in our version, EVERYONE is blindfolded. Here is the design:

  1. We have 2 kids who are “teeth”, 1 kid who is “tongue” (the only one who is NOT blindfolded), and the rest of the group are being divided into two groups, one consisting of “food”, and the other of “saliva”.
  2. The “food” teams up in pairs, holding arms. They want to find a “tooth”. Blindfolded, they listen for the sounds that the “teeth” make (making sounds with their knuckles.
  3. As soon as a “food” team has found a “tooth”, the “tooth” will break them a part.
  4.  Now the individual “food”s will listen for each their “saliva”, and as they find a “saliva”, “saliva + food” teams up, holding arms, raising their hands.
  5.  “Tongue”, being the only one who can see, detects the “food+saliva” couple, and guides them to the “esophagus”, – two rows of chairs or other furniture.
  6. When all the “food”s have found a “saliva”, and are seated in the “esophagus”, the game stops and “tongue” points out the winners. Applause!

After testing the game, two times with the class, we gave each of the 4 groups in the class the task of gamifying a part of digestion, drawing from our example. The goal is to present a game for the class next week.

Read more about Fonokolab at the innovation camp AFSNIT I here: https://www.facebook.com/events/660379303993613/

Read about the preparation for this session in our crew, and get a chance to watch an innovative process in a diverse team here.

Gamifying digestion!! Video log 8

Gamification!! How can we translate knowledge about digestion into a game?

This is the question we in the Fonokolab crew asked ourselves, – and answered! – during a 3 hours long – very intense – session.

In this video, you can see documentation of the process and the result.

Witness the effect of bringing 5 people together from three continents and with totally different experiences in their lives.

We experience, how diversity equals innovation, but also the challenges of concept development in a group, and how trying your own medicine will make us much better prepared for the role as facilitators for a group of kids, – who are supposed to do like us!!

Bonus: Watch this amazing animation about the Human Microbiome:

Same video with Danish subtitles: http://www.amara.org/da/videos/tCx4q9k7e106/info/the-invisible-universe-of-the-human-microbiome/?tab=video

Read more about Fonokolab at AFSNIT I here: https://www.facebook.com/events/660379303993613/

Preparation for Tuesday

So we have the texts from post doc in Biology, Toshia Myers about the digestive system. Now the task is to transform this knowledge into a didactic framework.

Our last session with the class went quite well, I think. The pupils were working experimentially investigating the different sounds the recycled materials gave. And there were some obvious benefits for the group dynamics. However the designing and building of the instruments were not totally satisfactory, from my point of view. Of course we had very little time, only 2,5 hours. So what would be the better way? We had the prices, – #best sounding instrument, #easiest to build, etc., and I am certain that we made it clear what those criteria ment by giving examples of unusual instruments and asking the class to give a valuation according to the criteria. However, these criteria seems to have been forgotten in the process of building, where the challenge in combining things – because we have to build something partially overshadowed the investigation in the actual construction of a thing whose function was to make sound, – according to a set of criteria.

The dilemma is that if we had given them a model, – the Lego way: here you have somebuilding blocks and a recepe, now put them together! – the chance that they would simply copy the model, and therefore not innovate, would be a strong possibility.

On the other hand, they simply had no prior experience in working this way, and didn’t have practical knowledge about the basic mechanics of what it takes to build an instrument. The default way of doing will inevitably be by making some kind of percussion thing, that makes sound when you hit on it.

For the next session, I would like us to try to set an example, and have all of us working through it so as to get a practical understanding of the mechanics.

These are my preliminary suggestions, to be used as an input for the concept development session with the crew on monday:

  • We have two things into play, the first is the instrument and sound part, the other is digestion. I think we should work on the playing music part, a little, in order to keep a link with last session and for the pupils to be prepared for what is to come. Let’s see it as a warm up exercise: we form a trashchestra, consisting of four groups. We use simple sounds you can make with your body, chairs floor etc. There are 4 ‘conductors’ conducting the intensity and tempo of the players in their respective group. There is a timeline, where one pupil moves slowly, depicting ‘time’, and 4 other pupils gives signals, according to a simple symbolic system, to the conductors
  • the second thing is to design a game that will illustrate the workings of a specific part of digestion. On Tuesday we try it out with the clas, showing what the basic mechanics of building a game are. The week following this session the gruops should the make each a game about their respective part of the digestive proces.
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    Project video log 7: Meeting with Toshia, post doc in Biology

    Today, the met with Toshia and 6th grade’s teachers to discuss the fundamentals of digestion. The goal was to decide which parts of digestion we want to focus on with the class.

    We wanted to find out which elemental functions of digestion that would make sense to bring into the class room, and we wanted to find out how working with artistic approaches can make the pupils gain real insight into the processes of digestion, in a way that they will remember.

    In the video, you will meet Toshia, biologist, and new crew member Joanne, who is an art therapist.

    Read more about Fonokolab, – sound+collaboration=LEARNING and the participation at innovation camp AFSNIT I here: https://www.facebook.com/?q=#/events/660379303993613/

    Conceptual framework for digestion + learning through art processes

    Project video log 6

    This video will show you our first workshop with the 18 kids in 6th grade, building instruments out of trash.

    Kristine Ingevall starts by playing some beautiful sounds on her instruments; then we introduce the categories for today’s workshop: #best sounding instrument#; #easiest to build#; #most variety in the sound#; #most durable instrument#. And a special prize for best collaborating team.

    See the class working, and hear their teacher’s very positive conclusions.

    More information about Fonokolab at AFSNIT I: https://www.facebook.com/events/660379303993613/

    Check out more ‘streetstruments’ here:


    Video log 5

    Today, Monday 4th of November, we had a session with the team, at Café Sonja. The goal for the meeting was to prepare tomorrow’s workshop with the 18 pupils at Tove Ditlevsen Skole.

    In the video you will be introduced to crew members Jaime, Kristine and Natalie, and you will hear about the development of the concepts for the innovation workshop. The introductory question was: how can we design a workshop were the kids combine a part of the digestion with a recycled material to build instruments. What criteria will  we set up and how can we make the pupils work according to these criteria?

    As you will see, we decided to let go of the combination with the digestion parts and chose to design the workshop to only include working with the recycled materials and their sound.

    And you will also see that we choose 3 criteria, setting up prizes for

    • the best sounding instrument,
    • the most durable instrument,
    • the instrument with most variation in the sound

    Additionally we have designed a prize for the group that is best working as a group. AND an extra prize, open category, that can come in handy if one of the instruments doesn’t receive any prizes.

    The concept that the class has been informed about since last week, preparing for Tuesday 5/11: The pupils are divided into four groups:

    Group Part of digestion / scenography Recycled material
    1 Preparation Metal
    2 Mouth Hard plastic
    3 Stomach Glass
    4 Gut Paper

    All pupils bring 1-2 pieces of recycled material on Tuesday according to their group’s category. Criteria of the materials:

    • it must be something that we throw out, ie. not angle iron and new paper, but, for example cans and phone bills.
    • the more common it is, the better, it should be easy to get much of it.
    • and so it must be clean!

    Read this post about a former experience with building innovative trash instruments with kids (in Danish):  https://oerermedfilter.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/om-somstrumentet-xylogongen-handfladestrumentet-svampebobstrumentet-og-vejrstrumentet-og-om-en-metodisk-landvinding/

    Project video log 4

    In this log, I ask the question: Can we reflect through sound? Is what we define as music the place for it?

    Music is what we define as being music, and in general, when we define music, we are talking about chords, scales, and measures etc.

    Since music is something that we have outsourced to experts, it is not a tool for us, in general to reflect through sound.

    Spoken language is a place where we all are capable of expressing tiny nuances in sound.

    This is why Fonokolab takes departure in speech as a common mode of expression, thereby giving us a place where we can distill the tiny nuanced movements in speech and work with them in various ways. This is what I call reflection through sound.

    Read about Fonokolab at  AFSNIT I here: https://www.facebook.com/events/660379303993613/