Remix, Remake, Curate

Learning with the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Tar River Writing Project, & The Poetry Project

Welcome to Make Cycle 4: Making & Breaking Code

Welcome to the final make cycle of 2015-16 Remix, Remake, Curate! At the beginning of the month, we explored DNA’s amazing way of coding the lives of every living thing. We will spend the remaining two weeks in April examining the idea of coded language in poetry and technology.

Think about the power of coding as a method of communicating a message. Bees encode messages about the location of fresh pollen in an articulate aerial dance, as early Homosapians once encoded stories of a successful hunt in glyphs on cave walls. The Navajo code talkers encrypted messages that aided American Marines’ success during WWII, just as today’s computer codes are powerful enough to give life to the World Wide Web. The ability to write these codes and decipher them is, indeed, empowering.

For this make cycle, you will begin with solving a code before progressing to creating your own low-tech/no-tech code, encoding a message in poetry, and hacking computer code with your poetic message.

Make With Me

See if you can solve this little cypher:

23-5-12-3-15-13-5  20-15  2-18-5-1-11-9-14-7  20-8-5  3-15-4-5!

20-8-9-19  9-19  7-15-9-14-7  20-15  2-5  1-14 5-24-3-9-20-9-14-7  23-5-5-11!

7-5-20  18-5-1-4-25!


Make 1: Code Yourself

For this low barrier/no tech make, we invite you to create an object that acts as a coded introduction to you. You could code your name or a word describing yourself with beads or Legos. Don’t have any Legos? Try virtual Legos with Build With Me.  


Red 4×2 brick Blue peg Orange 2×1 brick Yellow 4×1 Green 4×1 Black 2×2
D a n i e l

You could even create an old-school cipher or use binary code to code the letter of your first name. Or, you could use beads to  code your name, or a word that is important to you. If you would like to work with a friend, consider trying the “My Robotic Friend” activity. You could code your message into the stacked cups and then “solve” each other’s code. Just be sure to provide a “key” so that we are able to decode your message!

Make 2: Poetic Code

Poetry is another way of coding meaning. Part of what makes poetry poetry is the way it takes an idea or thought or experience and presents it in images and metaphors. The images and metaphors are what we read, but when we look more closely, those ideas come together. For this make, we’re going to ask you to create your message to the world. What message do you wish everyone around you could hear you scream out loud? What thought do you wish you could plant in people’s minds?  We’re going to write just a single line of poetry to convey that message. Then you can share that message with the world when you remix your poem in HTML for our challenge make. Check out the video below.


Make 3: Remix Computer Code

Back in Make 2 you wrote your message to the world in poetic code. Now it’s time to publish it on the web by coding it in html.

To encode an idea in poetry relies on the selection and order of words and symbols and images that communicate emotion and thought. Coding in a computer language, such as html, isn’t much different. HTML, or hypertext markup language, uses a specific set of terms in a specific order to communicate a message. That html code becomes all the colors and fonts and images and information on a web page. If you want more details, Mozilla explains in greater detail how it all works. This make will take place after our hangout with Chad Sansing, so if you feel like you want extra support, be sure to join or view the hangout.

For this make, we challenge you to publish your message to the world on the web using Mozilla Thimble. Watch the introductory video below; then open our message to the world, click Remix, and get started. Play with it. Take risks. Have fun. Also, check out some of the resources below to add background patterns, or change colors and fonts. And don’t forget to share your work on Google+.

Level Up/Level Out

If you enjoyed messing with Thimble, level up by remixing Chad Sansing’s Homework Excuse Generator. This one adds a little javascript into the mix, but if you work through the tutorial, you can make something really clever. Try remixing it into a random story generator or a random compliment machine. Or come up with your own idea.

Or try hacking your poetic message into a news article using Mozilla’s X-Ray Goggles. It’s a relatively simple tool, but it introduces html in a creative way. This tutorial should help you get started.

What are your ideas for Leveling Up with codes and computer coding?

Materials and Inspirations

  • Computer with Internet access
  • Legos, pipe cleaners or yarn, beads, foam blocks or any manipulatives
  • Using Thimble? Use the links below to find pattern, color, and font codes you can plug into the CSS.

Places to Share and Live Events

These are some of the handy links and places we’ve been using to share and connect.

  • In Google Plus (G+), we hope you have all joined our Remix, Remake, Curate G+ community
  • On Twitter, we encourage you to follow and use the #imakesci.
  • If you have a blog, you can make and create in your own digital space and share to the community on twitter with the #imakesci hashtag or the G+ community

Join us for a Twitter Chat Thursday, April 21 from 7:00-8:00 pm EST by following the hashtag #imakesci to talk about codes and coding.

Hear it from an expert! Join us on Tuesday, April 25 at 11:30 am EST as we host a Google Hangout with Mozilla’s Chad Sansing, who will answer our questions about the World Wide Web, coding, and the value of making the web. Send us an email ( if you want to participate, or look for the link in our G+ community to observe.

New to all this tech?  Check out Getting Started with Google Hangouts in the Guide to Social Tools section of the TRWPConnect blog.


Now that you’ve thought about who you are both in body and your digital presence, what is your digital footprint? What are you leaving “out there” in cyberspace? Is this presence something you are proud of? Is it something you want other people to see today? In five years? What would your grandmother or future employers think of the web version of you? What power do you have to make and remake your digital footprint? 

Author: flinchm

English teacher turned instructional coach. JH Rose High School lets me work with its amazing teacher, and East Carolina University sometimes lets me teach their fantastic future English teachers. I'm pretty luck

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