Answer two questions about kids and STEM

I received an email this afternoon from the school’s Communications person, asking me to for an article.
How can parents get kids interested in STEM at an early age?

Is important to keep a child’s natural curiosity about how the the world works. Children ask a lot of questions. Answer them in a simple, accurate way and tell them how it ties into the wider world. And if you don’t know the answer, together find the answer. And if after answering a question and they respond “Why”, keep answering till you’re both exhausted!
them a sunflower and explain how the flower and my other objects of natural express themselves in math (the Fibonacci series).

Take them a planetarium, a Maker Faire, and watch episodes of PBS’s NOVA series. Fix things together. Make a solar powered bug or shine a laser on a piece of mirror taped to an audio loudspeaker to see the patterns that sound make.
There are plenty of resources out there. Start with San Francisco’s Exploratorium website
What can schools and educators do to support students learning STEM?
The very definition of STEM means that there is an interconnection of knowledge and systems. Many schools have a robotics program in which hardware, software and structure must work in tandem. The Maker Movement and school’s creating makerspaces are another manifestation of how STEM is taught in school. Think big. Create a hydroponic garden that is connected to the Internet of Things or build marionettes that are controlled by sensors mounted on your body.



The Straw Camera was a joint venture by Mick and myself started in 2007. We were motivated by our mutual interest in creating images in the most direct manner possible. Mick in particular had an active interest in pinhole image making. On a summer school course we converted a Polaroid camera to a pinhole and had some fun withstrawcamera_032 that.

But there is very little in common between the pinhole camera and a straw camera. The pinhole gives an entire image from a single point perspective. The Straw Camera, which is a box stacked with approximately 23,000 black drinking straws, produces a multipoint perspective from an array. The light viewed/collected by each individual tube is recorded onto the photo sensitive material placed at the opposite end. By going straight on to paper, it is a direct analogue process.

We talked things over and lashed up a small box prototype to test. That worked and we decided that it might prove interesting to make a bigger camera, so we built a 20 X 24 inch camera. After initial tests with black and white we used colour paper as a negative. Then we contact printed to another sheet of colour paper (both without maker’s logos on the back), finishing up with a positive image.



Max Cooper & Tom Hodge – Symmetry

Max Cooper & Tom Hodge – Symmetry from Kevin McGloughlin on Vimeo.

Symmetry, from the Emergence LP:

Max Cooper

Symmetry is one of the most fundamental principles of nature, and also forms the basis of music. So this music video is an important early chapter in the Emergence audio-visual project, which starts with visualisations of the basic building blocks of nature, setting the stage for the physical universe to come into being, and later planets, life, civilisation, and technology (the whole story and project is explained at:

Symmetry is the idea that one aspect of a system can change while another remains constant. The idea of natural laws themselves, rely on the forms of symmetry that mean the same forces will apply to you as they do to me, independently of our position in space or time. And scientists searches for natures symmetries lie at the heart of much of our best models of reality (see Noether’s Theorem or more recent uses of symmetries in things like the ‘amplituhedron’!).

The principle is also responsible for music, in that our enjoyment of tonality, melody, harmony and rhythm comes from our subconscious appreciation of different types of patterns (i.e. symmetries) in sound waves.

The idea of Symmetry was explored in the video by Kevin McGloughlin, using simple symmetrical forms (primarily the circle), and symmetrical operations applied to them – rotations, translations and reflections. The animation demonstrates the beauty of this simple concept when applied in an iterative journey towards ever increasing complexity, both visually and musically.

The audio track originally came from preparations for a live piano and electronics show with Tom Hodge. I had some chords and glitches we were playing with in combination with a simple piano motif. We decided to try some live Fender Rhodes with it during practice and it all came to life.

Luckily we recorded the whole session so I had a load of stock content to play with when it came to turning the project into the album intro. My reasoning was that the intro should be about symmetry because of it’s basic role in nature, and the development and form of the track, going so glitchy from a simple melodic motif starting point, should work with applications of ever more complex symmetrical manipulation – emergence from symmetry, just as Kevin delivered.

Amazingly, Kevin didn’t use automated sync points from the stems of the audio project – or to put it another way, Kevin painstakingly set up all of those edits by hand, hats off to him for his perseverance on that!

Thanks for having a read, watch and a listen! – max
When I first heard Symmetry I was blown away by its impact and it really struck a chord with me… On hearing the concept for the track, this feeling was empowered tenfold. After much discussion with Max, we arrived at a conclusive concept for the visual.

I represented conservation laws by the use of a simple circle repetition. This circle form took on many new characteristics and evolved in complexity throughout the course of it’s journey, though every new form is an evolution / adaptation of the initial circle. I used a variety of techniques in an attempt to convey the idea of this ever evolving complexity within symmetry.

Starting with minimal moire patterns, moving into 3d depth and finally ending up with massive distortions and adaptations using a technique I developed ‘Digi-Cut’, displaying various moments in time offset by tiny fractions. This was an effort to demonstrate pre-universe ideas and the introduction of organic matter in relation to symmetry.

It was an absolute honour to work on this project with Max, in particular on ‘Symmetry’, which is my personal favourite piece on Emergence.

Kevin McGloughlin

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polarization | nº 1

pe lang – polarization | nº 1 from pe lang on Vimeo.

Motors, linear polarization filters, various mechanical parts
Size: 110 x 110 x 4 cm
Year: 2014

“Pe Lang’s kinetic objects obey a stringent constructive optimization in which each element can be decoded with respect to its functionality. Nothing about them seems ornamental or arbitrary. Their syntax is dominated by precision and control as the framework for sophisticated aleatorics, in which order and chaos are placed in fragile balance. This happens within an intensely aestheticized context wherein each detail has a formal significance.

Pe Lang came to kinetic art through experimental music and sound art. For the artist, born 1974 in Switzerland, it is a development that seems completely natural, in the sense that each sound is caused by movements of air molecules. Mechanical movements are, from his perspective, nothing more than greatly slowed wave frequencies. This fundamentally musically inspired attitude can be observed in Pe Lang’s kinetic systems: with bewitching elegance, they harness physical forces and put them on stage. These are constructions that are as soulful as they are ingenious, and which challenge seeing, hearing and thinking equally.” Text by Marc Wellmann

Unknown Archetype | TRIPP

Unknown Archetype | TRIPP (official video) from denial of service on Vimeo.

TRIPP EP Released 27/01/2017 On R&S Records
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TRIPP by UNKNOWN ARCHETYPE / Roxy Tripp, Oliver Kučera
Mastering : Hardgroove Mastering

official promo video by the denial.of.service © 2016

– TRIPP radio edit:
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