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Sabbatical Blog for 4/21


Why Face Painting?


One of the questions I get while doing my Face Painting for Grownups is “How did you get into Face Painting?”

My reply is that it was a result of my mid-life crisis.

After I hit 40, I thought about what in life I had always wanted to do, but hadn’t yet done.  One of those things is to become a clown.  So, I searched around, and found a clown convention in January that I could attend.  I saw they had preconferences on Face Painting and Balloon Twisting, and I wanted to do both.

So, I looked around to see if there were other ways to learn either one,  and I came across the East Coast Face Painting Convention (  a week before, so I decided to attend that.  There were a number of workshops and 101 classes, so it seemed like a good place to get started.

I went and I really enjoyed it.  There was one session on Painting for Bars and Nightclubs that really changed my life, as it opened my eyes to doing face and body painting on adults.  This was different than working on kids, as you work on designs and matching an individual instead of having a set board and painting Spiderman and Butterflies all day.   I then focused my course selection on things appropriate for adults, and really enjoyed working on Tribal designs.

I find that Face Painting is a great Play activity.  It helps grownups find a path back into the world of make-believe, where they get to be someone that they normally aren't.  When I finish a design, I see an immediate transformation in someone, and that's really exciting to be the one empowering that.

So, I then started practicing a lot and taking opportunities to paint for student events at MIT, and worked on putting together a business side for my work.  That’s where I am now – honing my craft and figuring out my next steps.  If you have an event targeting teens or grownups that you'd like me to come out for, let me know!

One of the students last night laughed at the end of this story, commenting that “Most people get a motorcycle for their mid-life crisis.”  I replied..  “Yeah, I learned face painting and bought property at Disneyworld!”

I guess I spent my first 40 years in life trying to act 55, and now I’ll spent the next 40 years trying to act 12.  Why?  Because play matters!




MIT Sabbatical Blog for 3/30

Here's what's up with my various projects:



Completing the Experience: Debriefing in Experiential Educational Games

I recently presented a paper at ICSIT 2012 - The 3rd International Conferenece on Society and Information Technologies called "Completing the Experience: Debriefing in Experiential Educational Games".

I talk about the concern in creating experiential learning games designed to be used in informal learning.  One of John Dewey's theories about learning is that education is the combination of experience and reflection upon that experience.

If a game provides only the experience without the reflection, then it isn't as effective in providing education.  In a classroom, the teacher can provide that reflection process for students.  Outside of the classroom, if the game does not facilitate the reflection or debriefing, then the opportunity to learn is lost.

In this paper, I present the theories behind this idea, discuss several models for debriefing, and then talk through a number of ways that game designers could incorporate debriefing activities into their educational games.

You can see the preprint of this paper at


Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom and Kim Possible ARGs

As my sabbatical blog for March 23, I spend some time talking about the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game at Disney World and the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure at Epcot.