I’ve posted several videos of a werewolf costume created by a grad student at Western Washington University. I wrote her with some questions about her project. She was more than generous with her answers and I wanted to share some of her responses over the next couple of days.
The comments at the end are mine and reflect my own bias. If you want to read her complete, un-edited comments, they are posted here.
What advice would you have for middle schoolers/high school students?
"Look to a variety of resources: Books, magazines, websites, TV specials, and anyone locally who already does what you want to do. But, look critically at your resources. A website may have a perfect how-to guide with excellent results but be selling the products they use in the demonstration videos. Will the authors of that website show you better alternatives to their products? Probably not, they want you to buy their products. A TV show won't be very technical, so you will have to fill in the blanks and try to figure out what steps are not being shown to make the process appear “pretty” on TV. Older books may focus on traditional materials without ever mentioning the new tools available. For example, there was a special wax used for mask making in the 1960's called Negacol, that no longer exists. Books from that time would make you think you needed to use wax when the product used today is actually made from seaweed and is very different! You may want to avoid the how-to videos produced for professionals since they will use special materials and complicated techniques that can overwhelm and empty the pockets of the beginner. Once you have a grasp on what you're doing, the professional videos can be pretty cool, though. Also, just because someone's expert at a skill doesn't mean they're not a little crazy. So if you meet someone at a comic book convention or on the internet who is willing to help you out with a project, keep your parents around when you talk to them face to face and don't hand out your address, mom's credit card number, wads of money, a copy of your birth certificate, cherished family heirlooms, etc."
Look critically at your resources. Isn’t that turning out to be one of our major tasks as educators as turn out this next generation into the world? Access is getting easier and easier. When the affordable laptops hit the market next year via the One laptop per child project, access will be even broader. The important skill is determining if a web site is reliable and pertinent. The important skill is helping our kids to look at resources critically. The important skill is teaching our kids to use the internet as a tool.
[Image: Modified photo by © Chris Harvey - Fotolia.com]