Saturday, January 6, 2018

Toy Hacking with Students

Before winter break, students in Physical Computing/Wearables donated several boxes of toys to IAHD in Westchester. The donated toys were ordinary, remote controlled toys that the students had "hacked" adapting them for people with disabilities. They also made big accessible buttons to go along with the toys, making it easy for people with disabilities to push the buttons and control the toys.

Two of the students had previously attended a toy hacking workshop at Adaptive Design Association, in New York City, along with Ms Yokana, to learn from the toy hacking experts at DIYability. There they learned the specifics behind taking apart the toys, identifying the switches and figuring out where to solder the leads to the new switches. Students learned that an adaptive toy, one made specifically for those with disabilities, can cost hundreds of dollars more than a regular toy. They also learned to make simple, big switches from cardboard, tape and aluminum foil. After spending a Sunday morning at ADA, they were all excited to teach their classmates and hack more toys.

The speech pathologists at IAHD worked with Ms Yokana to identify toys their patients would enjoy. Then, SHS students went to work. Pulling apart the remote controlled toys, they soldered wires to the solder pads of the existing buttons, which they soldered to switch jacks. By soldering the switch jack onto the solder pads of the existing switch, they were adding a second switch to the circuit. This second switch could be attached to an accessibility button, which students had made. Students finished up there soldering and fitted the toys back together.

On the last day before winter break, the speech pathologists from IAHD came to accept the toys bringing with them one of the residents from their group home. The joy was evident the moment Rima saw the toys! She played with all of them and immediately picked her favorite: the bubble blower. Our students were excited to see how happy the toys made Rima. In one student's words, "It was so easy for us to do and it brought her so much joy!" They also all agreed that it was a great way to learn more about circuitry and electronics.

Friday, February 17, 2017

From Prototype to Pitch

Eric Walters, at Marymount, put together this anthology of stories by educators working with Design Thinking and Making. It's now available on ISSU:
I've written a chapter about how we, at Scarsdale, built the case and the mindset for Design and Maker education by working across disciplines to create lessons that can be done in classrooms. Once the Design Lab is finished, we will have teachers ready to use it and students who understand the value of constructing something to demonstrate their understanding of complex knowledge. 

SHS Design Lab Blog

Lately, I've been blogging for my school about the new STEAM courses that are running this year: introduction to engineering and introduction to design and fabrication. Check out the posts here: We just started our second semester teaching these two courses, in a Physics lab, in an effort to build the program before we have the space. At the same time, we have been planning for next year's courses and putting finishing touches on the Design Lab's plans. To learn more about the lab, watch this video:

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Embodied Cognition, Making and Proust's Madeleine

Proust’s Madeleine, embodied cognition and making art; what could these things possibly have in common? All things I am fascinated with and passionate about, I have never really understood what they had in common until recently. They were all floating in my head-in that fuzzy cloud where connected ideas hover although I can’t clearly see their connections-and as I ran-which is when most of my ideas work themselves out, it came to me. Proust’s Madeleine was about sensory memory. Biting into that cookie caused Swann to remember having tea at his grandmother’s house. The smell, the taste, the texture of the Madeleine brought it all back. Sensory memories are strong and I have always understood that. But neuroscience and philosophy, until recently, argued that the mind and body were separate and that the brain could exist in a vat without a body. I have always instinctively known that wasn’t true. As a sensory being, I know that my thoughts, memories and ideas are intricately linked to sensation. When I want to remember where I have left my car keys, I remember the coolness of the marble counter and the clink when they hit that hard surface. When I want to remember something I have read, I remember where I was and how I was sitting-in essence what I was feeling-to enable recall. Brain and body are intricately linked. Neuroscience is just now beginning to prove this through fMRIs and other research.

Making art requires sensations. You feel the pencil, as it moves across the page. You know how the clay will feel as you shape it. Without that knowledge you cannot imagine what your work of art might look like. The knowledge of how a material will react is embedded in sensation and in your body as well as your mind-you cannot separate the two. And the joy you feel in creating is in part a sensory experience. I make works on paper, because I love the feel of the brush or pencil as it moves over the surface. It is soothing and exciting at the same time and fulfills me in a way that is inexplicable and primal. Man is a sensory being and we have been making things since before recorded history. Body and mind are linked: thoughts and feelings are permanently joined in our synapses.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Lisa's CV

                  Lisa Yokana


Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences: M.A., Art History.

Williams College: B.A., cum laude; elected to Phi Beta Kappa; Studio Art and French Literature major.

Princeton Day School, Princeton, New Jersey: National Merit Scholar.


Innovation and Leadership

Coach, Teachers Guild:
  • Design Thinking coach for IDEO and Riverdale Country School initiative solving educational challenges.
  • Lead Design Thinking workshops and coach individuals through challenges.

Innovation Grant Recipient, Scarsdale Teachers Institute:
  • Writing and implementing curriculum around wearable technologies with K-12 teachers.

Co-Creator and Consultant, Ethics in Action, Ethics Lab, Georgetown University and The Ethics Institute, Kent Place School:
  • Leading students and faculty solving real world ethical issues through Design Thinking process.

STEAM Curriculum Developer, Scarsdale Schools:
  • Creating curriculum and vision for high school Design Lab to open in fall of 2017.  
  • Public advocate for program and fundraising.

Innovation Grant Recipient, Center for Innovation, Scarsdale Schools:
  • Created and implemented a K-12 STEAM curriculum for MakerSpaces.

Curriculum Author, The College Board:  
  • A.P. US History Curriculum Resource Guide, “Teaching History Using Cultural Artifacts.”

Team Leader, Interdisciplinary Committee, Scarsdale Schools:
  • Examined existing interdisciplinary work and determined future best practices.

Innovation Grant Recipient, Center for Innovation, Scarsdale Schools:
  • Investigated existing Innovation Education models and launched practices.

Teaching Experience

Scarsdale High School, Scarsdale, New York:
  • STEAM, art and architecture teacher.
  • Interdisciplinary curriculum development and implementation.
  • Design Thinking, STEAM and Making curriculum integration across disciplines.

Kent Place School, Summit, New Jersey:
  • Studio Art and Advanced Placement Art History teacher.
  • Incorporated technology into Art History through online course management system.
  • Co-Director of Diversity: Created and implemented survey on diversity issues resulting in creation of position.

MPALS, (Manhattanville Promotes Academic and Life-Long Success), Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY:
  • Teaching studio art and art history to low-income, minority students.

The Wooster School, Danbury, CT:
  • Art and Art History teacher.

Selected Professional Development Workshops, Speaking and Consulting

NAIS conference, presenter: Design Thinking and Ethics in Action

New Jersey Performing Arts Center: Consultant on integrating Making, Makerspaces and the performing arts.


Professional development workshop Leader: Consulting on curriculum development integrating Design Thinking, STEAM and Making for numerous schools across the country.

Design Thinking Consultant, The Ethics Institute, Kent Place School: Design Thinking and Business workshop.

Presenter and Panelist, Higher Ed Maker Summit: Making at the High School Level and Maker Portfolios.

Maker Teacher, Agency by Design (Harvard’s Project Zero): Chosen as one of thirty teachers to work with AbD introducing their Thinking Routines into classrooms.

Professional Development Leader, Scarsdale Teachers Institute: Integrating Design Thinking, STEAM and Making into teachers’ practice.

Curatorial Experience

Guest Curator, Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts: Organized and wrote catalogue essay for “Anders Knutsson: Gates of Light.”

Curatorial Department, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York: Organized and coordinated exhibitions, international loans from the collection and permanent collection galleries.



Stony Brook University: Administrative Degree, Obtained certification in NY State for District and Building Administration.

Manhattanville College: Post-Masters Certification Program, Obtained NY State Visual Arts, Professional Certification.


Selected Publications and Awards:
Fellow, Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, Nominated and awarded fellowship, encourage 21st century enlightenment by enriching society through ideas and action.

A.P. U.S. History Curriculum Resource: “Teaching History Using Cultural Artifacts,” with Margaret Favretti, Stephen Mounkhall and Tom Maguire,

“Architecture, Psychology and Furniture?” with Fallon Plunkett,

“3 Key Factors for Creating a "Maker Culture" at Your School,” with Blake Auchincloss,

“School Makerspaces: Building the Buzz,” with Blake Auchincloss,

“Capture the Learning: Crafting the Maker Mindset,”

“The Art of Thinking Like a Scientist,”

“Four Steps to Becoming a Maker Teacher,” with Gayle Allen

“The Student Side of Making,” with Gayle Allen

Grant Work Innovation Websites: