Collaborative Family Digital Activities For Summer 2017

Summer 2017 is here, and as we enjoy family fun, outdoor activities, trips to museums and historical sites, vacations, and all sorts of camps and special programs, it’s also important to discover activities that will help 21st Century children use screen time creatively and wisely.

So with less frenetic schedules and no school, use the summer months to collaborate — that’s parents and kids doing things together. Adults can learn more about the digital whirl that’s such a huge part of young people’s 21st Century lives, and kids can engage in meaningful, creative, and interesting projects — and even have fun working with their parents. The pay-off? Everyone will figure out more about digital life and add variety to the types of digital activities that they typically do.

Below are 12 family digital project summer suggestions — all work best if people work together —  to consider for summer 2017.

Twelve Summer Digital Projects for Families                        Continue reading

Electronics Tutorial Helps Parents & Teachers Gain Deeper Understanding

Click on this icon at the top left of the webpage to access the tutorial.

Click on this icon at the top left of Paul Mirel’s webpage to access the tutorial.

As exciting makerspaces spring up all over the place, I wonder how much attention is given to leveling the makerspace playing field in order to ensure that everyone in a 21st Century group, class, or school community has the basic knowledge for exploring and innovating.

Take understanding basic electricity, for instance. At a conference that I attended last year — an amazing event filled with countless  maker opportunities —  some people seemed to understood electricity’s basics and lots of others did not. The people without the knowledge, the “have-nots,” frequently appeared to lurk on the periphery of projects.

A friend and former colleague, physics teacher Paul Mirel, recently developed an introductory electronics tutorial for his art students at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, MD. It’s written in a way that is easy to understand and also easy to follow. He thinks that his students need an elementary understanding of basic electronics if they are to fine tune their maker skills. Check it out!               Continue reading

Makerspaces Are Amazing, Yet I Remember When…

My local makerspace in Washington, DC — FabLab.

My local makerspace in Washington, DC — FabLab.

I am so energized by makerspaces, where people — children and adults — have access to all sorts of equipment to invent, try out ideas, and make things. I’ve spent some time in makerspaces at a number of conferences, and last summer I wrote about my experience at Gary Stager’s Constructing Modern Knowledge 2014 (CMK14) conference in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Read CMK post # 1. Read CMK post #2).

At my school our fifth graders have a small but lively makerspace where they can try ideas, often fail, and always have an opportunity to keep going and try again and the room is awash with small motors, LED devices, needles, fabrics, and even a few arduino boards. Parents and teachers should become aware of the trend for these innovative spaces and learn more about them. It will only benefit the learning of their 21st Century children and students.                        Continue reading