Living with Makers – learning about circuits 5

Living with Makers – learning about circuits

What does it look like to cultivate a learning culture out of school? Learning something new happens quite abit, but it seems these days, we may not necessarily acknowledge it unless it is accompanied by some sort of test or some metric that explicitly announces – “You have passed!”

I wonder what it might look like if we didn’t put such an emphasis on “you have passed” and more emphasis on the process getting to that accomplishment? What would it look like? How would children feel about trying out new things if there wasn’t a test attached?

Recently, my children spent a couple of afternoons at the IU Creativity Labs playing around with squishy circuits, e-textiles, and other circuitry kits. My youngest daughter (age 7) played with conductive dough and learned how to make LEDs light up, which then peaked her interests so much, she wanted to sew a circuit using conductive thread and LEDs….. while my older daughter spent her time designing and making a t-shirt light up using three LEDs. Both of them rated these activities a 10 – which made me wonder – Why is it that both girls were so deeply engaged with learning circuitry out of school? They both spent more than four hours working on these projects – in two hour blocks. Typically, Science classes are much shorter.  Albeit, class sizes are much larger than one-on-one attention given at the Creativity Labs, but they do get plenty of hands-on projects to do during their Science classes.

Is it because they were in a ‘safe zone’ that allowed them to play and make mistakes? Was it because they weren’t being given a test that they rated these activities so high?  Was it because they had help and scaffolding immediately after asking questions? Maybe it was because they had some choices regarding their playful learning? Or perhaps, it was because it was ‘play testing’ and they were being asked about their expertise using these materials? 

What I do know is that my girls had a great introduction to circuitry and I am very thankful for this. They are interested in play testing more kits and trying out new things soon.  As a parent-educator, there’s nothing more exciting than to witness your children take safe risks, to learn from their mistakes, and to find success through their efforts… … Thank you, Creativity Labs!

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