Draw It.  Code It.  QUT Summer Program | Review

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This summer QUT are offering Brisbane kids an exciting and interactive holiday program to ignite both their creative side as well as inspire any tech-loving minds amongst us.

A joint project by The Cube and QUT Art Museum, Draw It. Code It. is an immersive and hands on experience that you will want to clear a full day for.  Running only from the 6th – 14th January, this FREE program is a masterful way to educate and inspire children aged 5 and over in an environment that is both fun and engaging.

DRAW IT, QUT Art Museum

Usually the Art Museum has a large exhibition with a smaller associated project on the side but this summer it will be the other way around.  Based around its exhibition Portray and Play, the Draw It section of the program features multiple activities that small artists who love to draw, play and create will adore.

Shadow Puppets Activity Zone

For this activity, children are able to put together a simple shadow puppet using pre-made cardboard body parts, some split pins, skewers and tape. The newly created characters can then be brought to life and animated behind a backlit screen.

Note: there are actually three 1 hour sessions on the 6th of January where you can make your puppet and then learn about the elements of Focus, Breath and Gravity to help bring more life to your character. These sessions are free as well but need to be booked in advance.

Portray Zone

If your child loves dressing up then the Portray Zone is the place to be.  Artist Hendrik Kerstens’ series of photos in Portray and Play that depict his daughter in the style of Dutch masters but with everyday objects like a plastic bag or lampshade for her accessories is the inspiration for this area.  Kids are encouraged to dress up in similar attire and get a picture of themselves behind a giant frame to further emulate the portraits.  The hilarity kids find in placing a simple bag or tea towel on their head is priceless.

A Room of Facial De-Construction

For this activity, children are set up with a mirror and asked to create their own self-portrait.  They are encouraged to have a little fun with it and at the end can either choose to keep their artwork or submit it to artist, Gosia Wlodarczak’s, evolving installation. Wlodarczak will be housed inside a secluded room for the duration of the exhibition, visible only by a live webcam, and will be recreating submitted portraits onto the walls of the custom-built room.  This collage of drawings will then be open to the public to enjoy at the end of the program.

Play Zone | Create a Character Competition

In the Play Zone children are limited only by their imagination as they are encouraged to create and play with a number of different materials.  The program is running a Create a Character Competition which invites children to submit a character they have created in the Draw It. Code It. program.  This could be a puppet, a robot or something designed in the playzone – anything is allowed as long as it was created while there. The prize is a BB8 Sphero and two prizes will be awarded to the most creative character idea!

CODE IT, The Cube

The perfect spot for older kids (although younger ones will enjoy it too), the Cube’s Code It space is ideal for kids who are keen to sharpen their tech skills, get creative in the electronic Maker Space or for those who enjoy robots and gaming.

Code-A-Bot | Sphero Obstacle Course | Mornings With Cosmos

Upon entering The Cube it is hard not to be drawn to the oversize Code-a-Bot screens at its entrance.  Here, multiple screens are available for kids to have a go at creating basic code to both personalise and instruct their recycling plant robot.  Each robot can be viewed and coded as an individual on the lower screens or kids can see how they are working within the full recycling plant team on the larger upper screen.

Other robotic and coding fun can be found at the Sphero Obstacle Course where kids can learn the basics of robotics as they steer their robotic ball over obstacles and through small mazes via the Lighting Lab App on individual ipads.

Finally, if you are there early, from 10am – 12pm daily the mini Robot, Cosmos, is available to play with too.  This sweet little robot can be viewed as he navigates the farmyard themed playing mat and visitors can have turns operating him via the simple drag and drop code commands on his Cozmo Code Lab software.

Maker Space | Design-a-bot

The Maker Space and Design-a-Bot activities are the perfect combination for those who love getting creative with their tech products. Design-a-bot is perfect for a younger audience and allows children to personalise their own robot template before scanning it and then watching it animate in a 3d world.

The Maker space, situated upstairs in The Cube, is for the curious, creative and inventive child. On a long table kids have the opportunity to play with Makey Makeys, which allow them to connect everyday objects to computer programs or LittleBits, an ingenious invention that is like Lego but with transistors.  Colour-coded, magnetic and easy to use, LittleBits enable kids to engineer their own simple circuits.

Retro Arcade | Treasure Hunt

As if all of the above is not enough to keep them busy, QUT have also introduced a Retro Arcade and treasure hunt to the mix.  Stationed upstairs in The Cube and alongside the Maker Space, a large wall hosts an oversized 80s style video game that is interactive and can take up to four players at once.

Before you go make sure you also download the app GooseChase so you can take part in the treasure hunt.  As the family are exploring and interacting with the Draw It. Code It. program they can also use the app to answer questions and test their knowledge on the way.

OVERALL COMMENTS

I was lucky enough to be able to take my two daughters, aged 5 and 8, along to an early preview of what the summer program will involve.   Both girls love getting creative and so I was not surprised when they were instantly drawn to the Draw It activities on offer.  Whilst my youngest delighted in dressing up with plastic bags or tea towels to replicate portraits (much hilarity ensued when she realised what objects she was suppose to dress up with) my eldest spent a lot of concentrated time creating her own portrait before choosing to submit it to be recreated by Wlodarczak later.  The shadow puppets were also a huge hit, the simplicity in their creation allowing the girls plenty of time to play and have fun with them behind the screens.  These puppets continued their lively animation on the car ride home and have performed for our family multiple times since.

As much as they love to draw and create, it was the Code It play areas that eventually drew and won the most of their time and attention.  The floor to ceiling giant screens for Code A Bot added a dramatic backdrop to this activity and although my 5 year old enjoyed watching the action, the coding side of it was better suited to my 8 year old, who still required some help to get it to work.  The LittleBits station was perfect for both of them as they delighted in their new-found ability to quickly and simply create battery-operated circuits.  Even I was drawn into creating my own, swapping out different pieces to watch the variety of results that could be reached.

If you are looking for an educational and inspiring activity for your family these holidays then I would recommend heading into QUT for their Draw It. Code It. summer program.  With plenty of different activities to move between you can get a full day of fun out of it and it might be an idea to pack a picnic to enjoy in the Botanical Gardens afterwards!

The Facts

When: 6 – 14 January 2018

Time: 10am – 4pm

Suitability: 5 years +

Cost: FREE

Where:   The Cube (Science & Engineering Centre) & QUT Art Museum @ QUT Gardens Point campus

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