Elements of a Big Brain Storm: part 2 (the thunder)


In part one of our Elements of a Big Brain Storm story, we discussed the most visible and discrete aspects of our Brain Storms: the activities. These activities are analogous to the lightning of our storms because they’re the most obvious aspects of what we do, and their contours are most easily discerned. In this part of the story, we’ll try to articulate the less easily individuated elements of our storms: some of the underlying qualities that sort of blend together to make up the feeling or vibe that reverberates through the very best Big Brain Storms. The thunder of the Big Brain Storm is probably most easily articulated through example:

At one point during our open house party in December, one of our partygoers figured out how to illuminate our Galaxy of Light, and the room suddenly burst into applause. And before that, a Big-Brained Superhero initiated the nerding up of the The BBSC City of Light by deciding to add that galaxy. And before that, that very Big Brain got his galactic inspiration from when he tagged onto a NASA newscast project other Big Brains were developing in preparation for our Pizza, Planets, and PJs Party devoted to Hidden Figures. And before that, Big Brains started throwing Pizza, Planets, and PJs parties to watch @neildegrassetysonofficial’s reboot of Cosmos on the community center tv when it first came out in 2014. In the midst of all that was the collective development of the City of Light, circuit wall, and Cardboard Godzilla, each of which has its own origin story that feeds directly into our galaxy.


So, what exactly is the origin story for the Galaxy of Light? Where, when, how, and why does it start and end? Or does it end? For such a tiny, insignificant patchwork, there are quite a few threads. From Elements of a Big Brain Storm: part 1 (the lightning), we can easily see some of the basic elements that went into the creation of our galaxy: circuits, science, storytelling, etc. But those are just the technologies deployed. Underneath, around, and within those elements are continual conversations between and among Big Brains, Big Buddies, and volunteer sidekicks about who we are, what we’re doing, and how we’re going about the business of building our Universe.

Since we’re frequently talking input, process, output when discussing robotics/computational thinking, we’ll apply this framework to describing what we consider to be some of the most important elements of our Big Brain Storms:

Input areas of interest include:

  • From where are Big Brains drawing their inspiration?

  • How many sources of inspiration (including senses) are they using?

  • How wide is their range of source material?

  • How specific and nuanced are their observations of both their immediate environment and whatever other source material they are using?

Process areas of interest include:

  • Are Big Brains having fun?

  • How adventurous are Big Brains being when choosing their projects and activities?

  • How much are Brains challenging themselves?

  • How specific and thought-out are their questions?

  • How are they going about answering their questions?

  • Are they working together and getting help from other Brains?

  • How are they contributing to the community?

Output areas of interest include:

  • Are Big Brains achieving their goals?

  • Are their achievements more permanent/tangible or are they more transitory/intangible?

  • How are individual and collective Big Brain achievements building on each other?

These being elements that generate some of the thunder of our Big Brain Storms, we don’t have any preset or predetermined answers to these questions. We haven’t studied the exact number of optimal inspiration sources a Brain should be leveraging, for example. It’s possible the number is out there, of course, but with so many variables within any given Brain Storm, we’re skeptical that we’ll find one number to rule them all. So, we go with the, for lack of a better word, vibe. We feel it and sense it more than we typically see it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not real or not important. In fact, if anything, the vibe is often where it all begins.

To make up for not having a more complete understanding/explanation of these elements, we offer the God of Thunder: