Solomon suggested 'popularity' as this week's project; why some things are more popular than others. Building on this idea we looked at how trends and fashions change over time, considering the impact of usefulness and aesthetics, with particular attention to three areas: language, clothes and technology.
These days it is easy to see how language changes over time with tools like Google ngram viewer and Google Trends, and both Monica and Solomon enjoyed exploring the rise and fall of different terms in books and search engines.
Minecraft, Fortnite and Mario Odyssey
There are also plenty of resources for exploring changing fashions of clothes, from sticker books, stories, to plenty of online videos:
Surprisingly, Monica's book of Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, also included the story of Coco Chanel and her little black dress. Surprising because there are a number of questions about the extent of Chanel's Nazi sympathies. Whilst the book promoted the freedom of the little black dress in comparison to earlier restrictive clothing, it also inadvertently formed the basis of a far more pertinent message on fashion: you can be the most fashionable person in the world, but it's not worth a damn if you're a Nazi!
We also dug up a wide range of old and new technology from around the house to explore ideas of technological progress and convergence. Exploring everything from a box brownie camera and 3.5 inch floppy disks to a Sony walkman and Nokia 3310.
Based on fashion, transport or technology, Monica and Solomon were asked to suggest a future trend. Monica designed a 'moon hat', a hat which keeps your head dry without messing up your hair. Solomon designed the Fun-Travel-500 Car, with soft play areas and roof trampolines.
'Moon hat' and 'Fun-Travel-500'
Finally we finished the week by considering a couple of models for how we can think about trends and fashions with online simulators, exploring both the idea of contagion and Schelling's model of segregation. Solomon really took to exploring the simulators, especially Schelling's model, and explored the idea independently with his Bloxels kit, exploring how people might sort themselves into groups if there were more than two different types of people who wanted to live next to similar people. It was one of those moments when you could really see the advantage offered by home education: it is not merely that you can cover subjects that would never be introduced at school, but when a topic piques their interest they have the freedom to explore it as much or as little as they like.
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