The Calculator Room

TargetBasisschool de Zonnesteen, BergeijkClientSelf initiated
DateJune 24, 2014PartnersDolf Nijsen, Sina Kazemi

In April 2014, architect and teacher Dolf Nijsen gave a workshop about being an architect to a class of primary school students. Part of his workshop was building a model of your own ideal school. One of the proposals the children made was a calculator classroom: the whole room was an over-sized calculator. When he showed it to us, we thought it was a brilliant and playful idea and we wanted to try it out with the class.

The aim of the workshop we did was to introduce the basics of electronic circuits as well as the attitude of hacking. We wanted to show the children that technology is open, accessible and playful. Together with industrial designer Sina Kazemi we quickly developed a prototype we could pilot. In a couple of months, Dolf returned to the same class with us to pilot the Calculator Room workshop.

The workshop doesn’t depend on complicated technology. It starts with opening up a handheld calculator, to see how an electronic switch works and how we can play with it by extending the switch using wires and other conductive materials. We used a webcam to broadcast the LCD screen, and attached all of the student’s switches to one device using pins and wires. In the end the whole class tested the calculator together by solving equations: a group effort with the class having to coordinate with each other to trigger the switches.

Based on reaction by the teachers we believe there is much potential in the Calculator Room. It is an engaging group activity focused on making, math and teamwork. It uses simple technology so teachers could learn how to host the workshop themselves. We look forward to working together with schools and teachers to further develop this project.