The argument presented here is that computer courses must reach beyond the comfortable cushion of conventional teaching practices, and provide students with a way to come to grips with complexity. It provides as evidence a digital graphics literacy course for architecture students using transformer robot toys as a metaphor for introducing the concept of adaptive kinetic architecture. The transformer toy provides a manipulative device with which to develop students’ 3D modelling and rendering skills. The course approach is described, and observations about the students’ work are offered. It concludes further investigation is needed to ascertain the most appropriate delivery for reciprocal and complementary knowledge. Years ago during a summer vacation, I watched my four-year old nephew play with his favorite toy—a transforming robot composed of smaller robots. A transformer robot is a highly articulated figure with specialized joints that allows form to change without disassembly. The joints are simple mechanisms, and transformation depends on a highly orchestrated sequence of moves. My nephew, who was bilingual and illiterate then, focused all of his attention on the five figures in front of him, and one-by-one reshaped them to build the larger robot. His eyebrows were tense; his eyes followed the actions of his hands, and his fingers moved gingerly and precisely over the moving parts. He would not speak until the five would be reconfigured into one large robot. He had simpler transformers that could change from vehicle or animal to robot, and he had mastered them all. Instructions for manipulating the toy are primarily graphical; they use line, color, shades, and arrows to indicate how a part is to be rotated, sledded, pushed, or pulled. I noticed, however, that my nephew never used them to pursue his hands-on studies. I realized then that the transformer robot toy was the vehicle I had searched for that would introduce my students to the modelling of complex geometries and articulations in a way that would cross over to other courses in the curriculum, in particular the design studio.
Complete Chapter List
C. S. Lin, C. C. Chou
G. Parchoma, S. M. Taylor, J. M. Naylor
R. Horne, J. Kellett