Eva is a maker. Ever since she could use her little fingers to pick things up, she has, combining them, moving them, connecting and altering them, creating masterpieces and master messes. She has left a ballooning cloud of glitter and legos and monster-fied Barbies in her creative wake for years. So it comes as no surprise that when asked what she wanted to study in the fall, she requested a “makers” year.
Making and engineering is all the rage these days, and it was pretty easy to put together a host of fabulous resources for us to explore. I am typically not a curriculum user, preferring to keep my approach more flexible and individualized. The result? A cornucopia of gadgets and books, links and games and resources. A treasure trove! A Pandora’s box! And I’m here to share it with you.
These resources, by the way, can be used by home educators, brick and mortar teachers, and parents who just want to enrich their kids’ education. All are welcomed! So without further adieu….
Between the Folds, PBS documentary: a wonderful film exploring the far-reaching art and science of origami. I caught it once when it aired, and I’ve now requested our local library to purchase the dvd. If you follow the link, you can find additional games, origami history and interviews with the director about filmmaking. I plan to “fold” this into our origami study, in which we will investigate geometry, art, and science. I’m still gathering the rest of the materials for this unit, but I’ll get there. One resource that I’ll be pursuing is Origami Salami, developed and run by a teen who is engaging kids in STEM through folding. I know she’ll be a wealth of information.
Vi Hart: The witty, wonderful, brilliant mathematician who helps us see that math is AWESOME. We plan on practicing her fractal doodles and enjoying her crazy fun videos, which can be found YouTube. She now works for Khan Academy, so we’ll check her out there as well. Last year, Eva fell in love with her hexa-flexagons, and followed Vi’s instructions to make her very own and very yummy Mexi-hexa-flexagon. Good times. I’ve included one of Hart’s doodling videos below, so you can experience first-hand why we love all things Vi.
DIY.org: I’ve discussed this amazing resource before. Loads of DIY challenges in tons of topics, waiting to be tried and filmed or photographed, shared online and celebrated. I absolutely love these folks, and will be working with Eva to support her endeavors. The brilliance of DIY.org is that they truly want adults to help provide safety and appropriate resources, but then they respectfully ask them to butt out and let the kids figure it out. I love that approach.
EEME.co: For just under $20/month, EEME will send a small electronics kit for kids ages 7-12, along with online video instructions and quizzes. I haven’t decided for sure whether we’re going to sign up, but I imagine we will in the end. I like the idea of receiving the little packages in the mail – I know Eva will be circling the arrival date on the calendar, eager to do the next project!
Sylvia’s Super Awesome Maker Show: Is there any better way to learn making than from a kid your age?? Sylvia is sweeping the nation, with her step-by-step video-based making projects; at just 11 years old, she has the perfect blend of courageous go-getter-ness, intelligence, and goofy charm and was recently featured in People Magazine! Sylvia takes on challenging STEM-based projects, like rocket building and circuitry. Eva and I plan on working through as many of her projects as we can, and of course we’ll share our progress with Sylvia too. The ‘net is such a wonderful way for folks to connect. Sylvia also has a youtube channel.
National Novel Writing Month: Write a book, make a book! Take the 30-day challenge (with free pre-challenge workbooks to help you plan out your story) and join hundreds of other kids who are experiencing the joy of becoming young authors! We’ve used this program for four years, and with it, Eva has written and self-published her four books.
DIY Kids by Ellen and Julia Lupton. What a great book! Chock full of ideas and how-tos for everything from graphics to toys to things for the home to fashion. This one is specifically written for kids, and many of the projects are easy enough to do without assistance, though there are also plenty for us to explore together.
Lego Mindstorms: We invested in this surprisingly open-ended set last year, and after Eva built several pre-written robots, she designed one of her own. The possibilities are endless, and we plan on pursuing them.
Architecture Project: This one’s a self-made idea, pulled together from some older resources I had tucked away. I discovered the book Why Design? Activities and Projects From the National Building Museum by Anna Slafer which, though published in 1995 has a persistently relevant approach and format. It helps kids investigate existing designs and identify potential improvements, and also challenges them to identify problems that trouble them to inspire ground-up innovation. I paired this book with another dusty tome on my shelves called A Blueprint for Geometry by Brad Fulton, (1998) which teaches basic drafting and blueprinting for rooms and buildings. Again, I was surprised that the design of the book itself as well as its approaches still had great kid relevance. These books don’t feel dated. Once we work through those resources, Eva and I may create a 3D architectural model based on the plans she draws. We’ll see. The schedule is getting mighty full.
Code.org: I’ve written about this resource before as well. Under 30 minutes per day, and my kiddos are on their way to understanding the complex language that runs all our techie gadgets. That’s power!
Khan Academy: If you’re interested in education at all, you’ve likely heard of Khan, the charming provider of 9-minute lectures on just about anything, who’s on a mission to educate the entire world for free. We have never used Khan Academy exclusively, but we do enjoy popping by from time to time, especially for the math content. Even though this isn’t technically hands-on, the instruction is a necessary component for practical application later!
Alcumus: I’ve talked about this before. Alcumus is the online math “game” (basically you solve questions for badges and the like), that we’ve enjoyed for years. It is a part of Art of Problem Solving, which also provides great math videos, texts, and online classes. We primarily use the Alcumus module and the videos. Again, not hands-on, but great instruction.
Other resources I may pull out include Fractals, Googols, and Other Mathematical Tales by Theoni Pappas (released in 1993, a definitely dated book I had on the shelves, but will provide some fun read-aloud math story/challenges throughout the year), Math Amazements by Pamela Marx, which have some fun visual math games/challenges/projects, and if we’re super ambitious, perhaps we’ll build this tetra lamp shade. And we’ll definitely visit A Mighty Girl frequently for fabulous resources relating to strong women. There are tons of great science and math heroines to explore!
Besides the resources listed above, Eva will continue her study of filmmaking, story telling, audio-book making, authorship, and web design.
And of course, our year will be filled with fun interludes of amazing youtube videos. Here are some that we will regularly check in on:
My next step? Figure out how to fit all this in! Now that’s a problem that’s going to take some engineering.
You may also like:
- Share this