Summer STEAM Program: Out of the Black Box

Out of the Black Box (OBB) is a summer workshop series that aims to help children in grades 2-5 to uncover the magical logic of computation through arts and crafts. Together we will build electronic circuits by making sculptures with conductive clay, paintings with conductive paint, and drawings with robots. The activities in this workshop series are designed to encourage participants to produce collaborative works with their peers–emphasizing skills such as teamwork, compromise, and communication. Participants will leave this workshop series with a basic understanding of electronic circuitry and a deepened exposure to multimedia art-making practices.

OBB is inspired by the 90s children’s TV show Out of The Box. In Out of the Box, teachers Tony and Vivian lead a community of children through interesting arts and crafts activities, while also instilling values about friendship, communication, and relationship-building. We aim to create a similar environment for values-based exposure to art-making by extending our focus to be inclusive of STEAM education.

Neta Bomani is a black, first generation American born, multicultural east African person of Tanzanian-Malawian lineage who engages in visual storytelling, direct action, and anti-art practices for black and brown communities. Neta seeks to reveal and reduce social precarity and inequality through the use of tangible, accessible media such as DIY computational objects and abolitionist gestures of resistance like organizing, and making archives, writings, prints, zines, maps, circuits, and workshops. Neta’s work has materialized as an organizer of the Tech Zine Fair, an organizer of the School for Poetic Computation, a member of Stephanie Dinkins Studio, and participator in grassroots organizing against prisons and borders in New York City and beyond.

Bomani Oseni McClendon is a Brooklyn-based engineer studying the ways that Black health outcomes are influenced by a history of scientific racism, examining his own proximity to techno-solutionist monocultures and the medical industry as a starting point. Bomani creates light installations and electro-mechanical sculptures that use scale and diffusion to invoke thoughtful observation. While many of his works use sensors, circuits, projections, and code to augment story-telling, Bomani pushes aside these mediums when concepts require other representations. By exploring the shortcomings of scientific practice, Bomani hopes to highlight the validity of other ways of knowing.

This program was created in partnership with the Joseph Miccio Cornerstone Community Center located in Red Hook, Brooklyn.