Use a long piece of paper. Tape it on the floor. Make sure the kids are wearing protective clothes - this will be messy!
You can use a variety of materials: paint, pencils, graphic pens..
Choose a limited color palette.
If possible, use two days for the activity. This way you can create layers to the artwork.
The activity can hold up to 15-20 kids, but works with as little as 1-3.
Running the activity
Start by talking with kids about what algorithms are. Explain to them they are now the computer. Each one will get their own algorithm.
Examples of algorithms: Draw a dot. Draw a circle around a dot. Draw a line connecting all the red objects. Draw the first letter of your name. Draw squares in two different colors. Draw triangles inside each square.
Ask kids to choose a pen and spread them evenly around the paper.
When you says RUN, the computer turns on and each kid starts drawing. When you say END each kid stops and moves one stop to their right.
Run the "computer" fast and slow. How does the art change? Having music play in the background might also help.
Let the artwork dry for a day. Make the second layer.
- Let kids come up with their own algorithms. Discuss what makes an algorithm easy to follow. Allow kids to run the computer one at a time. Did the algorithm the kid imagined instructing to others look different in practice? Why?
How long would it take for a computer to generate digitally similar piece on an art work given the exact same instructions? Not very long - it could probably do it in nanoseconds. A computer is very good at following instructions and very fast. It would always win humans.
What do humans bring? Creativity. Emotion. Interpretation.
Ask the kids how the artwork makes them feel? Acknowledge the feelings. Explain that a computer can never experience real feelings - it can be programmed to respond to feelings or to analyze artwork from a database, but it will never experience art the same way humans.
What is an algorithm?
An algorithm is a set of specific steps that you can follow to solve a problem. In programming, algorithms are used to create reusable solutions to problems. Search engines like Google or Bing use search and sort algorithms to make it easier for us to find information.