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Making Things 'Hinges on Play'

Late last Summer, my son suggested that I take my brainchild education project, Play Tectonics, to the annual RVA MakerFest held in Richmond, Va. each fall. I had heard about the Maker community, and even though I am an avid supporter of the arts and education, and my father made jewelry out of silver and gold, I had never gotten involved with “makers”. Knowing I needed to take a significant step to grow Play Tectonics to the next level, I decided to get involved.

Actually, I went way beyond 'getting involved.' I launched Play Tectonics as a new Richmond-based start-up, became one of the top sponsors of RVA MakerFest 2017, and committed to setting up the largest booth in the exhibit hall as huge puppet-making party.

My brand new team of artists, designers, and engineers jumped into action producing needed marketing flyers, cards, website, and video. But the high point, literally, was the giant hinge—a huge installation of the origami-like folded paper device that is central to the invention I call "Play Language".

The team had been discussing adding some kind of hanging display, but this project was ambitious. It took weeks of painstaking trial and error to develop and an 11th hour push to make deadline. But thanks to design lead Arthur Brill of Behind the Curtain and Heidi Rugg of Puppets Off Broad Street, we were able to hang our bold sculpture from the 17 foot ceiling of the new Dewey Gottwald Center at the Science Museum of Virginia.

The great Hinge was a dramatic focal point of the exhibit's energy, color, movement, and creativity— all robustly expressed in the creative flowering of one-of-a-kind puppet ideas that kids, parents and educators made throughout the day. By event’s end, Play Tectonics had proven a uniquely creative process that, in addition to bringing people together, had brought out their creativity. Not a single copy in the harvest!

Considering Play Tectonics’ highly visible, cross-pollinating role at RVA MakerFest, it would be great to see Makers build more play-focused educational intentionality into their festivals to help parents, teachers and kids discover Play’s power as a culture-changing energy source. As Parents, teachers and kids flocked to our booth, we were proving the observation, made in the article below, that a win/win relationship between makers and educators would produce a windfall of mutual benefits.


Relevant research to these issues may be found in this Edutopia article.

- Jeff Peyton, Founder

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Photo left: Jeff Peyton and Derrick Hill, founder of YES Across America, and Jeff's collaborating partner of 10 years at Makerfest 2017, Science Museum of Virginia.