Critical Making
Foundation Course

We are the “how.”

Big-picture theory meets execution here. Students cultivate crucial 21st-century skills (meaningfully) through our in-depth curriculum. We also train and support teachers to understand how to nurture these competencies in their classroom.

Some of the projects students will try:


    SXSWedu Conference

    Set up in SXSWedu’s “Playground,” EXPLO Studio challenged participants to design and cut cardboard jumps, diverting Molly Mogul, famed skier, away from the mouth of a bear and into a safe ski lodge.


    Project: Landscapes

    Will the City Planning Board sign off? Students designed and installed paper clip and index card kinetic shade coverings in a public park. After making observations about the space, discussing relative scale, and negotiating on aesthetic choices, groups defended their solutions to the “City Planning Board” to get their approval.


    Project: Cable Commandos

    Horrible sea creatures have risen from the briny deep and are soon to descend upon the citizens of Papertown. With the clock ticking, students must successfully balance their wooden car on a rope, because if all goes well, the momentum of the car will knock the villains off the podium.


    Project: For All The Marbles

    The recent storm wiped out a marble company’s conveyor system, so now they are relying on students to save their profits. In this process, they will score and cut paper to create the optimal load-bearing structures, identify failure points, and successfully land three marbles in a row in the transport truck.


    Using Rulers and Triangles

    What does this line between 1-¼” and 1-½” mean? Can you accordian fold an index card into ⅛” segments? What is a clear 30-60-90 triangle good for? Throughout out projects, students make calculations on paper and then must apply them to the tools of the trade.


    Video: Meet Our Student Design Intern


    EXPLO Studio intern Lauren discusses why Studio’s projects are so effective in a classroom setting for a hands-on learner like her, and what sets them apart from her classroom work.


    Project: The Heist

    Using two lego axles and a single index card, students must build a car capable of stealing as many pennies as possible from an unsuspecting bank. Civil engineering meets civility in this escape challenge.


    Project: Dodecahedron Lamps

    Can you build a free-standing, 12-sided paper lamp shade? Students turn a classic platonic solid into an expressive lamp shade that casts dramatic light and shadow forms across the classroom.

“This class teaches you how to use your brain in a way that you didn’t know how before.”

– Critical Making Course Student                

What are “foundation”
maker skills?

These are skills that are: applicable, beneficial, transcend the typical silos, foster connections between students and subjects. They teach us how to think and behave like a maker and transform those characteristics into any discipline.

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