Making, Tinkering, Breaking, Fixing, Upcycling
What is Scavengers?
Tech scavenging is at the core of everything that we do at Noisy Toys. These are the outcomes we aim for:
– Raising awareness of the human and environmental consequences of disposable electronic consumer items
– Learning technical skills by taking things apart and building new things with the resources
– Learning about the physics of sound and electrical circuitry
– Creative experimentation and musical exploration using home-made upcycled instruments
– Human empowerment over technology in an age where our tech increasingly controls us
Scavengers don’t sit around complaining about how bad things are. They adapt and learn the skills and knowledge that they need to survive. They make use of everything around them and turn waste into valuable resources. We can help make the world a better place by empowering people and changing behaviour to reduce waste, but at the same time we can also make some cool things from all this free stuff that’s lying around, so lets get organ harvesting all those dead computers!
Key Scavenger activities:
– CREATIVITY: The tech is a means to a creative end, such as a new musical instrument
– MAKING: Using physical, electrical and digital components to build things
– UNMAKING: Using tools to take apart electronic cadavers for free resources and for fun
– TINKERING: Play, experimentation & exploration leads us down unexpected paths to new inventions
– PROBLEM SOLVING: Often we learn most when something doesn’t work and we have to find the fault
– HARDWARE HACKING: repurposing discarded tech can save loads of time
– CODING: The dark arts of our age- using low-cost programmable computing devices to unleash magic
Noisy Toys is now partnered with Scavenger Labs, a Community Interest Company based in Calderdale. Have a look at the Scavenger Labs website.
Drop-in Scavengers workshop activities
Visitors can have a go at a variety of Making, Tinkering and Unmaking activites around the themes of electronics, electromagnetism and sound. Using specially designed workshop kits, as well as other upcycled instruments to try out and noise machines to build, we can make some fantastic sounds from simple everyday ‘found’ objects and repurposed electronics.
Use of amplification via contact microphones allows us to discover hidden sounds in objects, but we also explore acoustic methods of discovering sounds. Quite often the Making activites culminate in a short noise jam where everyone can join in to have some fun playing the instruments. This drop-in has been featured at the Moscow Maker Faire, Festival of Thrift, Edinburgh Science Festival, Science & Industry Museum, Big Bang Yorkshire & Humber and many other events.
Watch the video from Scavengers at the Festival of Thrift September 2018 here.
Suitable for classroom or other structured settings for a fixed number of participants and a set time.
More information HERE.
Scavengers stage show
In this show Steve Summers demonstrates a selection of upcycled Noisy Toys built from e-waste, we learn about what is inside some everyday electronic items (by breaking them open), where some of the materials come from and where they go to when the thing breaks. Some weighty topics around the human and environmental consequences of disposable electronics, as well as a dash of electromagnetism, but the style is fun and entertaining, with a focus on what we can do to help, and how we can take back the control of our technology.
More information HERE.
Like making things, but the other way around.
Screwdrivers in hand we will take apart old computers and other electrical cadavers and find the treasure inside, and then we learn how to easily and safely turn it into mechanical, acoustic and electromagnetic instruments that we use to make glorious noise machines.
Unmaking is great because:
1- It’s fun to break things.
There is no better way to re-establish the natural relationship between human and technology than by taking a hammer to it (although we tend to use screwdrivers in a workshop setting).
2- We learn how the technology harware works
The workings of these magic boxes are usually hidden from us, but it’s just physical stuff that follows Maxwell’s equations. Some of the best inventors started by taking things apart, and we can often start to figure out the basics of what is going on quite quickly.
3- We gain new skills
We get better at fine motor skills as we use precision tools to open up the boxes.
4- We get TREASURE! Organ-harvesting the free resources and components inside bears many wonderful fruits.
Consequences of disposable electronic consumer products
An estimated 32 million tons of electronic waste are produced annually and we hope to draw people’s attention to this issue, as well as to the consequences of obtaining the materials (including conflict minerals) and disposing of the waste after a very short life-span of usability. Young people are very receptive to this message as it is often young people in developing countries who are involved in the mining and the waste processing, working in difficult and dangerous circumstances.
Young people in rich countries like the UK are subjected to intensive marketing to obtain the latest electronic gadgets and games, which contain more and more sophisticated surveillance tools to profile their user’s lives, and are designed to produce habit-forming behaviour in even very young users. Yet we have less and less control over -or understanding of- the workings of our technology. Often, the technology seems to control the user now, instead of the other way around.