Critical Kits and How We Use Them

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Turtles and Traffic Jams Mitchel Resnick41 describes decentralisation as a completely different way of thinking about the world. Understanding decentralised systems runs counter to our intuition that things are the way they are because we assume that someone or something in control is organising things from a central point. Decentralised simulations have been used to understand how ecologies, politics and stock markets work for decades, but now we are on the verge of huge social changes as AI’s and cryptocurrencies built on decentralised systems such as blockchain are used to coordinate our society. Whole STEM education programs have been developed to support children to construct decentralised systems within a techno-solutionist educational framework. A great example of this are the Participatory Simulations developed by Vanessa Collela,42 for which children take on the role of agents, following simple behavioural scripts to enact the role of atoms or animals and observing what happens to their behaviour as a group. In creating the RoboGames, I wanted to explore a how an approach similar to Collela’s could be used to deconstruct everyday cultural forms like playground games, in a space that was meaningful to our participants. I wanted to see if restricting their movements to simple behavioural scripts would trigger the young people to move through the irregular geometric space of the skate park in new and interesting ways. Luckily for me, the young people that took part in GYM JAMS were generous enough to indulge me in that.

41  Resnick, M. (1997). Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams: Explorations in Massively Parallel Microworlds. Book. MIT Press. Retrieved from 42  Colella, V. (2009). Participatory Simulations: Building Collaborative Understanding Through Immersive Dynamic Modeling. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 9(4), 471–500. S15327809JLS0904 54