My thesis while at ITP, Artphones revealed to a group of 3rd graders how they can use their imaginations to manipulate the world around them.

Shown: Maureen Reilly's 3rd graders all quite excited to see the results.

See also: PSFK's write up on Artphones.

More specifically, though, I asked these students to sketch out and then sculpt from clay their dream walkie-talkie.

Shown: Schematics for a hamburger and ketchup walkie-talkie.

I brought in the "guts" of a walkie-talkie to show them just how big their designs would need to be in order to house the necessary components.

Shown: Clay model of the hamburger walkie-talkie.

When the students had finished sculpting their walkie-talkies, we asked them to share their inspirations for their work.

Value: Priceless.

With the design phase complete, it was time to scan the sculptures into the computer. Using 123D catch, I took about 60 photographs of each piece from every angle possible.

Shown: Skull walkie-talkie atop my custom (read: cheap) 3D-scanning environment.

Noteworthy: I drew different shapes and colors on the scanning surface so as to help the software piece the photographs together.

Once scanned into the computer, I was able to scale the sculptures (now digital meshes) to fit the size of the walkie-talkie hardware.

Shown: A digital mesh of the hamburger walkie-talkie (green) with the amount of space required for hardware (blue).

Shown: Using the MakerBot Replicator to (slowly) print an Artphone.

One design challenge that I almost overlooked was how the Artphones would open and close. After experimenting with different magnets, I settled on velcro so as to allow for a very child-friendly interface.

Shown: All necessary hardware within Henry's "Leaf" Artphone.

Learning the software and hardware necessary to make Artphones a success was, indeed, a worthwhile endeavor. What I hadn't counted on was how important this project would be to the students I had the privilege to work with.

Shown: Students discussing the "guts" of their Artphones.

Red Burns, the founder of ITP, once wrote that "creativity is not the game preserve of artists, but an intrinsic feature of all human activity." I count myself lucky to have studied under her during my time in that Chelsea loft. Her message of discovery-through-play resonated with me strongly, and is the reason I teach today.