What is Social Action?

I don’t have to tell you, there’s a lot wrong in this world. There are homeless everywhere, lots of guns leading to lots of unnecessary deaths, women on tv and video games being nothing more than sexy bodies to stare at (instead of creative and powerful minds to listen to), police and politicians treating some races and classes better than others, advertisements everywhere making you feel bad about yourselves, kids getting bullied online, the climate changing in scary ways, people getting addicted to all sorts of things…just to name a few.

Are we just going to stand there and let this all keep on going? Are you just a kid who has zero things to say about any of this and zero power to DO anything about this? I. DONT. THINK. SO.

Doing something about all these problems is called Social Action.

Social action can be dangerous. You are fighting against problems that are often caused by people with lots of money or power or both. Going up against them is risky. As game maker Zoe Quinn said, “lf video games have taught me anything, it’s that if you encounter enemies, then you’re going the right way.” And remember, during this journey, even though I don’t have all the answers, I always have your back. Whatever you need to make your project happen, we’ll do it. period.

What is this Class?

This class is about doing social action with the help of technology. The tech tools here are chosen to M A X I M I Z E the power of your message and help you to invent important things that may never have existed before. Here are a few student examples:

How Does this Class Work?

  • Find an issue that’s important to you on
  • Make A PLAN with Dr. Lahana so your project is doable.
  • Learn a tool (see below) to use for social action. Learn more using sites like Instructables, YouTube, or Craftsy (Ask for Password).
  • Using these tech tools, create a project that teaches others about your social issue or invents a solution!
  • Click HERE to make sure your project has all the parts that make for powerful social action.


Lego Robtics
Scratch Programming
Jewelry Crafting & Metalsmithing
Sketchup 3D Design
Garageband and Podcasting
Krita and Canva Graphic Design
Powtoon Animation
StoryboardThat Comics
Piktochart Infographics
Arduino Electronics
3D Printing
Kahoot! Quiz Design

Tool: Lego

  • Your Lego must be about social action. Check out some themes from First Lego League by clicking HERE.
  • Everything you create must have moving parts (No simple buildings).
  • Label your work in a Lego bucket or with a zip-lock bag
  • DO NOT touch other people’s lego projects
  • The most powerful Lego projects are programmed using Lego’s software. You can create your own or modify one you download.

Tool: Scratch

  • Your Scratch game must be about social action.
  • If you can’t think of your own idea, I have tons of lessons. Your job is to take one of them and change it so it is about a real-life issue. You can also find games on Scratch’s website and remix them. HERE is a super easy game you can remix into a serious game.

Tool: Jewelry, Leather, and Sewing

We have lots of AMAZING tools here in the café: 3D printers, a Cricut, jewelry making tools, sewable electronics, pyrography (burning wood to make art), leather crafts, and much more!

Tool: Filmmaking

Your Filmmaking must be about social action Must have a script like THIS ONE from 8th grader Maria or a storyboard before filming.   Click HERE to see the script from a movie called Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Two books that you also might want to check out are Making YouTube Videos and AFI’s basic filmmaking toolkit.

Tool: SketchUp

Tool: Arduino and Sewable Electronics

Arduino is a very small and very affordable computer (AKA microprocessor). You can plug inputs into it like buttons, temperature sensors, and motion sensors. You can plug outputs into it like motors, buzzers, and lights. Put together, you can make the inputs control the outputs. For example, a button (input) can make a light (output) turn on. A temperature sensor (input) can make a buzzer (output) sound when it gets hot. These are simple examples, but it can get very cool very fast when you start putting inputs and outputs together and then program them. Check out Petter’s Cigarette Smoke Detecting shirt made with an Arduino.

  • Like Petter’s shirt, your project should work to help solve a social issue.
  • Here are an Arduino book to get you started: Adventures in Arduino

Tool: GarageBand & Podcasting

  • Your GarageBand Song must be about social action- Click HERE for our SoundCloud page for examples.
  • You must have Lyrics pre-written. No freestyling!
  • Click HERE to see how to make a hit pop song and HERE for a BrainPOP on vocals
  • To Podcast, think of one issue or story you want to talk about.
    • Try to keep your episode to less than 5 minutes.
    • Please write an outline of what you plan on talking about and some important points you want to make.
    • Consider interviewing others in some of your episodes– write down your questions ahead of time.
    • Click HERE to listen to the Youth Radio Podcast. Click HERE to listen to Radio Rookies

Tool: Other Tools

Rules: Music, Videos, and Games:

  • This class is about CREATING not CONSUMING. Unless you or your friend have created the media, don’t consume it. What do I mean: No listening to music, watching videos, or playing games unless someone at The Island School created it.

Rules: Saving your Work

  • Don’t count on “your” computer being there
  • Don’t count on “your” computer working
  • Save your projects to your Google Drive when possible or email it to yourself

Rules: Start of Class

  • Come to the first 3 rows for a quick talk
  • Leave your computers closed and open up your ears…I don’t talk long.

Confused? Aimless? Go to

Rules: End of Class

  • Logout of all your accounts, roll up cords, headphones, and put your laptop back properly
  • Clean up your materials (for example, wash paintbrushes, vacuum sawdust, pick up random lego pieces, wash dishes, put jewelry beads on the floor back in the jewelry case…).  FYI, groups working with super messy materials might be asked to clean up a little earlier.
  • Wait for me to say line up and then, um, line-up.

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