Monday, June 17, 2013

Creativity Week: Part 3: NYSCI Makerspace: Learning by Making

Very smart.  They don't give you a big safety lecture right when you walk in but they DO tell the kids what tools are available to them and explain how to use them safely.  It's a big difference that kids appreciate.

WHAT:  Make It: Woodworking at New York Hall of Science
DOES:  being creative with raw materials that might hurt you if you're not careful? YES! I love it! Sign us up!
INVEST:  Class costs $8 for member and $10 non-members.  Space is limited and running for a limited period of time.  Other Make classes are available throughout the year.
AGES: 5+
LIVE OUTSIDE OF NYC?: Don't worry, I've posted ideas for you below.
TOOLS: Think Like A Scientist/Engineer, My Body Needs to Move, Express Yourself

I had my first pocketknife when I was 9 years old.  I used it to strip bark from sticks to make a really smooth and long poker stick (good for roasting marshmallows).  This was all due to my wonderful experience at Trail Blazers camps, where urban kids from economically underprivileged communities, exchange the sounds of subways and car alarms for the sounds of crickets chirping.  (and almost zero electricity for us for weeks... totally amazing! And the camp is still operation!)

It seems like that is what families have to do to get away from the rules and expectations that sometimes dampen our creativity.  Some kids really want to work with wood and nails and hammers and the like but our living situations don't really allow for it. Moreover, our unfamiliarity with this material is changing the way we think about what our kids can or can't do these days.  I am no fine motor queen but I don't remember ever being hurt by my pocketknife.  My brother and I had several.  (My mother was too busy to over-worry. That's the plain truth)

Of course, that would be my kid who must hold a hammer because he can't wait to start hammering SOMETHING.... ANYTHING!!  The instructor, Reid Bingham has superhuman patience.

#2 will find a teacher and charm his way to getting lots of attention. He decided to make a bridge and drew for the teacher what kind of bridge he wanted to make.

Mom stands by to help with a drill.  But parents can be very involved or be coaches on the side..  It's up to the family.

There was awesome music playing but it does get loud.  There were headphones available to kids who wanted them.

I had no idea was he was doing.  It was frustrating me.  I always want to know everything.

Teachers here seem to teach differently.  They seem to be more like advisers than an instructor with a specific agenda.  #1 of course, LOVES that.

Finally, I took my meddling mouth outside to let my kids have a good time.  I am a control freak...okay?  Don't tell them that I admitted this.  My husband stayed behind but you can see he was busy trying to make a toy.  (Far left red t-shirt- not even looking at our children).

Not long ago #2 had asked me to buy him a bridge making kit.  Well, I think we don't need one anymore! Thanks NYSCI!

I truly love the Makerspace at NYSCI run by David Wells, an expert who has been interviewed here many times.  I think he, Reid, NYSCI and the Making the Future initiative by Cognizant which supports the Makerspace are all really amazing.  Additionally, many of the young talent you see in the room is a result of NYSCI hiring Maker Corps members who were trained by the Maker Education Initiative.   I've also read that Cognizant made Maker Corps possible at the New York Hall of Science, New York, NY; Newark Museum, Newark, NJ; Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA; Chicago Children’s Museum, Chicago, IL; and Mt. Elliott Makerspace, Detroit, MI. 

I'm so grateful for this opportunity to give my urban babies an opportunity they'd seldom find in our city.   The make sessions are 1.5 hours long so if you think you'll get really involved in something, discuss with them ahead of time.  NYSCI phone number: 718-699-0005 and let them know you have questions about the Makerspace classes.  (There are preschool classes too at the Makerspace at NYSCI).   

This post is dedicated to David Wells! Thanks David for all that you do!  I still remember how you reached out to help me find more science classes for my son who was really sad that his science class with you was over and you had been so concerned for him (because he got in trouble at school).  Strangely, the more hammers and saws he holds, the less likely he'll get in trouble!


The year must have been 1980? .... We cleaned it everyday.. best learning experience ever!

Where we slept.... we sewed any holes on our mosquito nets ourselves.... we solved problems as they arose...

Also- a big thank you to the good people at Trail Blazers Camps.  Camping there was one of the most important experiences of my life- I made a lot of things there like the paracord bracelets I talked about this week, a pouch for my pocketknife, blueberry ice cream!  Thank you!!! 

Disclosure: Toys are Tools has not been compensated by any of the parties mentioned in this post.

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