March 30, 2017
Postdoc Bill Babbitt and RPI Graduate Student Michael Lachney conducted this month-long program at an Upstate NY high school. This after-school program engaged cosmetology students in computational and mathematical thinking through exploring cornrow braids. Students developed computer programming and mathematics skills through a series of hair braiding activities that resulted in a variety of deliverables: 2D braided simulations, braided mannequin heads, and 3D printed braids. Students showcased their work during the last week of the program.
Students began by learning about the history and cultural context of cornrow braiding using the Cornrow Curves CSDT. The students created presentations and shared what they learned with each other. Next, the students learned about the Heritage Algorithm used in cornrow braids using the tutorial and then the CSnap programming envirnonment.
Students applied the terms they learned during their engagement with the CSnap tutorial to physically braiding mannequin heads. The physical designs were then recreated using the CSnap software. Students could recreate their own design, another students design, make a design from a book, or challenge another student with their design.
Once students were comfortable with the simulation software, they went on to make their own design to be physically rendered as a 3D print.
The student design linked above has been exported as a graphic image. The next step in the process is to apply the image to a head model in 3D modeling software:
We used 3DS-Max to render the student design on a 3D head model. The student intended for the circular part of the design at the top of the image to be a bun, with the remainder of the design on the scalp of the model.
The 3D model was then printed on a 3D printer.
At the completion of the Cos-Computing workshop, students presented their work at a standing-room-only celebration event to fellow students, parents, school administrators, and community leaders. During the celebration, the students showcased the different parts of their work, which included physically braiding mannequin heads, computer algorithms for their simulations, graphic images of those designs, and 3D printed renderings.
We would like to thank the Cosmetology teacher at this Upstate NY high school for her assistance in bringing Cos-Computing to life.