• CanEX
  • Can Pals

CanEX (pronounced "can-ects")


CanEx: A Can EXhibit for the EXchange of ideas

CanEx boxes are a fun and innovative way to share kids' stories. Much like a "tin can telephone", listeners hold the can to their ear to hear a voice. In our modernized version, listeners push a button to hear a prerecorded kid’s voice that tells his or her story.


We install CanEx boxes in coffee shops, libraries, bookstores, museums and other community gathering places. They have been featured in galleries at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Carlyle Building. They have also been featured at the Square Café, Espresso A Mano, OH Yeah! Ice Cream and Coffee, and many other such places.

They are often accompanied with a wooden panel of artwork and index cards for community members to share their thoughts with the kids.


How do they work?

The team at the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University designed and built the CanEx boxes. Each can contains an audio playback device and a speaker. The can is connected to a "string", which is actually an audio cable that leads to the wooden box with a button. When a listener presses the button, the kids start talking. Users can easily change the story by replacing the audio chip in the back of the box.

Do you want to host a CanEx in your business or use them for your event? Contact us!


Can Pals

Can Pals is a fun and unique way for kids participating in Hear Me to use technology creatively to help spread their voices across Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The Hear Me team at the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, created a technological listening device that combines traditionalism with modern technology. It was developed from the idea of the Tin Can Telephone that was used in the 20th century in preschools and elementary schools to teach children about sound vibration. In a modern twist on this kids' tradition, Hear Me will use tin cans to transmit kids' voices throughout the region by installing an audio playback device within the can, that will be used to project and share kids' stories, thoughts and ideas with other schools and organizations via the Hear Me 'Can Pals' program.

This is how it works...

Record Your Audio

Linden_CanPals_005 A Quick Story Template will be sent in advance to the participating group (school or organization) in preparation for the recordings. A 'conversation of choice' will be discussed and chosen by the educator and the kids.

The kids will record their stories via computers or recording devices at their facility or they can choose to do so in coordination with an in-house visit from members of the Hear Me Team using professional audio recording kits.

The stories will then go through an editing process that will be managed by the Hear Me team.

Once the stories are edited, the Hear Me team will upload your kids' audio onto our website, where they can be heard by anyone, anywhere!

Making Your Recording Part of 'Can Pals'

The Hear Me Team will then plan a visit with your school or organization to integrate your stories into 'Can Pals'. The team will work with the students through the process of installing their stories into the can, using an electronic chip and a PC laptop.

Now your story is in the can!

The students will now create their own label (to be provided) for their personalized can by creating artwork or text that is an expression of themselves and/or their recording.

The students will then adhere the label to the can via an adhesive or double stick tape to be provided.

Now Your Story Has its Own Personal Label!

Linden_CanPals_003 Once the class has completed their cans in full, the Hear Me Team will help you to select a school with whom to share your stories! Your classroom stories will be put into a Hear Me Container and sent to the selected school or participating organization, thus creating a pen pal, sharing process among youth in our region.

The receiving group will have the opportunity to listen to all the stories and to comment on and discuss the stories with their educators and peers.

Once the receiving group has had time to listen and experience all the stories, the students will carefully remove the labels (without tearing them) by peeling away the adhesive.

On the reverse side of each label, the receiving student - called the 'listener' - will fill in his or her first name, age and school, and then will write a short letter to the student who recorded the can story - or "speaker" - about how they felt about what they heard. The prelude to each letter will be, "I heard your story and I..."

The listener can even include in their response, the location of their own story on the website, if they have also produced a story for Hear Me, creating a further exchange of stories.

Once all the letters for each label in the group have been completed, they will then be returned to the school of origin (via a provided pre-paid envelope) so the letters can be shared with the original 'speakers' of the stories and their educators. The original kids now know that they have been 'heard'!!!

And That's a Wrap!

Linden_CanPals_002 The cans that remain at the receiving school with the 'listeners' will now become part of the 'recycling' process, as those students will now record their stories onto the can via the same process; create their own labels; and then the cans will be sent to another school from the Hear Me Roster, thus continuing the 'Can Pals' process.

The goal of 'CAN PALS' is to get as many kids, schools and organizations involved in a speaking and listening exchange, that not only gives our kids the opportunity to voice their stories, thoughts and ideas but also the opportunity for them to be heard by their peers and adults alike!

Through 'CAN PALS' we will create a community of speakers and listeners among youth in our region.