Interview with Babble Dabble Do
March is not only Women’s History Month, but here in New Jersey it’s also STEM month! To celebrate, we interviewed the talented Ana Dziengel from Babble Dabble Do. Ana is a former architect and furniture designer, who now runs a website devoted to craft and STEAM projects that are fun for the whole family! We love how her projects engage children and help them work on problem solving skills, all while having fun! She has even used some of our PrintWorks Paper and Cardstock in her projects, and her creativity amazes us every time!
Learn more about Ana and her work below!
Tell me a little about yourself.
“Hi! I’m Ana Dziengel. I am a blogger at babbledabbledo.com, author of STEAM Play & Learn, and the director/teacher at Afterschool STEAM Los Angeles and Camp STEAM. I have three kids (who are growing up too fast) and a husband who is a videographer/documentary filmmaker. Before delving into blogging and teaching, I was an architect and industrial designer.
What inspired you to combine art with science in your crafts?
“My background in design really pushed me to work on projects that cover multiple disciplines such as science and art. Architects and designers have to combine creativity with practicality, including how to create beautiful buildings and products that actually function and work for users. I am always looking for projects that convey this multi-disciplined approach when I work with kids.”
How did Babble Dabble Do come to life? What is it all about?
“Before Babble Dabble Do, I had a several other blogs, one that documented my family’s life while my mother had Alzheimer’s disease, another where I reviewed crime fiction books, and a sewing/crafts blog. When my mother passed away, my father decided to retire and asked me if I wanted to take over his architectural firm. That was the crossroads for me. I was pregnant with my third child and decided that I did not want to spend these years with little ones at home juggling an architectural business. It was then that I decided to reinvent my craft blog into Babble Dabble Do and see if I could make a go as a blogger. I knew it would offer me a lot more job flexibility, while also fulfilling my creative side. My blog is really about helping families connect through creative projects and to be a resource for STEAM project ideas for parents and teachers.”
How do you come up with your ideas/projects/creations?
“Some of my projects are inspired by books (I especially love retro craft books), some are basic projects that I add a new twist to, and some are based on my background in architecture and design. I love flipping through a book of science experiments and envisioning how to add an artful element or engineering twist.”
With all of the tech options available to express one’s creativity, why do you choose hands-on projects?
“Nothing can ever replace hands-on creativity. I have never been very good at drawing but give me a glue gun, paper, and cardboard and I’m in heaven! There’s something about working with your hands and testing out ideas in 3 dimensions that is inspiring. I have seen this spark with so many of our students. They might come into class feeling intimated or stuck, but once they begin experimenting with some of the materials we have available, the light bulb goes on in their heads and they are suddenly unstoppable (literally – I’ve had to pry students away from projects 20 minutes after class ended). It’s amazing to watch, and I believe we need to foster more of it especially as we become a more tech-based society.”
How does paper play an integral part in your work?
“Paper is by far my favorite material because it is so versatile. It can be used to document ideas, to make books, and to create 3D objects. It can be cut, folded, decorated, ripped, taped, glued and more to make an infinite numbers of projects. I especially love turning it from 2D to 3D; it’s a valuable lesson to share with kids, that materials can be manipulated in so many ways if you just take time to explore and work with them.”
What has been your most favorite project?
“Flextangles has been my favorite project. It’s actually called a flexagon, and was invented by Arthur Stone way back in the 1939. My twist on it was to encourage people to create Zentangle type designs in the diamond shapes on the template, hence I called it a Flextangle. The funny thing is, when the project went viral on my blog many people started calling them flextangles as if that is its true name. Oops!”
Any advice for parents or teachers on how to get kids more interested in STEAM projects or crafting? What about adults who are interested in crafting, any advice for them?
“I have written about this a lot on my blog, but my top piece of advice is: keep it short and simple. Adults have a tendency to overcomplicate things with expensive materials and lengthy projects that kids tire of quickly. To get your kids into a creative mindset try a few projects using simple recycled materials or paper and keep the time frame short, say 15 minutes. Here are a few easy projects to start with: Cosmic Suncatchers, Paper Nets, Paper Helicopters. As far as advice for adults, have fun! Remember what it was like to make projects as a kid? There is nothing stopping you now and your skill set is even more advanced. I personally love using blogging and teaching as an excuse to do crafty projects!”
Where do you see Babble Dabble Do in the future?
“I want my blog to continue to be a resource for teachers, parents, and children around the world. When I receive pictures of students from Africa to Australia trying our projects, I realize how wonderful the opportunity to be a blogger is. You really can reach people all over the world. I am also toying with the idea of creating a “show” on my YouTube channel with themed activities and makers skills.”
What other projects/endeavors are you working on?
“I really want to expand my in-person programs when we get back to school. I have been taking child development classes and am very excited to bring what I’m learning into the classroom to develop an even more exciting program. I also want to write a new book featuring how to use maker skills and creativity for good. As I look around at the sad events in our country in recent days (and years), I am really motivated to make sure the next generation of children learns how to be critical thinkers and problem solvers. There is so much that needs to change and I want to inspire kids to do that through creativity.”