Scalestorming at the Library

Having the Powers of 10 presentation with IIDA at the San Francisco Main Library was a great reminder of what the possibilities are for what ALL libraries can be for a community whether a city or a school.  It was wonderful to talk to students, architects and interior designers about the projects of Charles & Ray Eames, the history of 10/10/10, and the Powers of Ten workshop with the new booklet at an information center.  The library was/is truly a place to scalestorm!

A library is often seen as just an information center for an individual but it could also be a special venue for an event about scale. I recently heard on the radio about a large scientific research center being built.  The spokesman said that it is going to have several branches of research all at the same location so that the scientists are able to bump into each other in the hallways and talk – like at a conference – which is often when the most exciting, unexpected, promising conversations happen as people share their insights on the way to the elevator.

A library could do the same thing for all ages!  A library could host a special month long Powers of 10 event to bring groups of people together – scalestorming on topics like some of the examples listed below – drawn from the workshop booklet.  Just think how enriching it could be for everyone.  In fact, it could turn into an annual event – every October.

1) Examples of big/small objects – Do research about objects that are the biggest and smallest things that you can think of, and the people who study them.

2) Orders of magnitude – Find examples for a report and illustrate it.

3) Current events – Make a presentation on different events happening at 10 different scales like world population, national debt, stock share trading, Hubble telescope, nanotechnology, nuclear energy and epidemic.

4) Help a non-profit – Look at the bigger and the smaller issues related to an environmental concern like the Amazon rain forest or the oceans. Think at what scales that concern can be helped.

5) School Science Fair – Help host a school science fair with scale models, and other experiments.

6) Graphic design project – Pick a topic and represent it at four different scales including one micro and one macro.

7) Art project – Select a drawing and then take graph paper and enlarge/reduce the drawing.

8 ) Math project – Show the difference between linear growth vs. exponential growth with examples.

9) Tipping points – Give examples of “when little things can make a big difference.” (Malcolm Gladwell)  Examples like a virus becoming an epidemic, volcanic ash shutting the airways for international flights, or an oil leak becomes an ecological nightmare.

10) Reading list – Select books in fiction that have jumps in scale like Gulliver’s Travels, James and the Giant Peach, the Magic Schoolbus Series and the Magic Treehouse Series.

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