Week in review, sort of

I did not do a good job last week of daily reflecting! It was kind of a crazy week, and now it’s all a bit of a blur. But I’m going to attempt a week in review.

Chaos took over a bit in the Makerspace and the library in general–not because of any poor behavior, but just sheer numbers of kids. More formal activities start this week all over the middle school, which I am hoping will reduce the chaos a bit and give the Maker kids some opportunities to really dive into longer-term projects. I’m curious to see who signed up for which activities (we’re doing 4 in the Makerspace: Sewing, Paper Circuits, Tinkering 101 (2 sections), and Scratch Programming (2 sections), with each activity meeting for 55 minutes during each 8-day rotation). I’m also considering allowing daily drop-ins in addition to the kids signed up, but need to wait and see how things play out.

I got a new shipment of hobby motors, so there was a lot of experimentation with those.

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Tinkering with motors and LEDs.

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Motors, wood sticks, tape, and playdoh. When turned on, it looked a lot like those light-up spinning things you can buy at Disney.

And of course there was sewing!

IMG_0088I don’t have a photo for it, but the Raspberry Pi crew continues to experiment. Sometime when it is not so chaotic in the library, I need to check in with them and see what they are up to.

And of course we are still checking out loads of books. Here is our hold shelf this morning. A healthy hold shelf is, I hope, a sign of a healthy reading culture!

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Finally, this weekend was the RVA Makerfest. Collegiate had a few tables in the student showcase portion of the Fest. The lower school had some awesome Scratch, Makey Makey, and Lego WeDo interactive games set up, and the middle school had SEW for SOS, Sparki the robot, and a paper circuits station where folks could make an electronic card. I ended up helping out with the paper circuits and didn’t get a chance to take many pics or see much of the Fest, but here are a few shots:

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Fixing Sparki!

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Interactive games from the Lower School.

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Lower school helper!

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SEW for SOS

The student showcase was a lot of fun, and we stayed busy the whole time. One interesting observation, though, relates to the idea of frustration tolerance that I’ve written about recently and that has been discussed on the #makered chat on Twitter. The kids who came to do paper circuits were pretty much able to handle it fine when they did it wrong the first time or things didn’t work out quite the way they wanted or as easily as they thought it would. The process is pretty simple, but when you haven’t done it before, there are many ways to mess up. Which is fine! It’s okay! For every single “mess up,” we were able to get the card working by the end, with a little tweaking and revising. My sense was that the kids were okay with this. But the parents? Not always. I had a student helper who got snipped at by a parent who insisted on doing things the way they thought they should work, but then was upset when it didn’t work at the end. I got snipped at myself. People! These are middle school kids volunteering at an event! The kid’s stress kind of became my stress, and I ended up taking over more than I wanted to and more than I believe in doing, just to try to protect my kids and myself from snippy adults. Blergh.

I wonder if, by changing how we do education, and incorporating frustration and failure more consciously as something to be expected and even embraced, we might create adults who will welcome those moments when their children are wrestling with something that doesn’t come easily or doesn’t work the way it should. I know it is hard for me as a parent/teacher–as evidenced by my stepping in when the kids were uncomfortable with the cranky adults!! It’s a hard line to walk, and it’s hard to know when to step back and when to step in.

In the end, though, it was a good experience for all of us!

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