Tag Archives: computer

Making is a Click Away: 3 Kid-Friendly Maker Projects I Can’t Wait to Use in a Classroom

I’ve always felt like STEM was out of reach for me. It wasn’t that I felt locked out of the party, like many women throughout history have been, I just never thought I would actually enjoy a job in any of those fields. Much like our guest writer Emily explained, I love the idea of more women working in STEM… but other women, not me. Just the thought of sorting through code or equations when I could be reading or writing makes my eyes glaze over.

Luckily, over the last couple years, I had the serendipitous opportunity to work at a lab that combines the hands-on approach of maker culture with consideration for the humanities. This job forced me to approach a lot of tasks that I had never really encountered before, but it allowed me to do so from the perspective of a humanities student. We were prototyping, yes, but with the goal of understanding more about history, culture, and theory. My experiences at the lab gave me a whole new level of interest in the field of STEM and, while I still don’t feel like it’s the field for me, I feel confident enough to approach coding or engineering for some very (VERY) basic projects. It’s opened the door to ideas that once felt impossible to even consider.

I’m particularly excited to learn about the accessibility of maker culture because I recently decided to pursue a career in teaching. The more I learn about in the world of making and prototyping, the more excited I am to implement these approaches when teaching.

Building Circuits

If you look up the basics of circuit building online you will probably find a page that highlights all the tools and parts you will need to build a basic circuit. While this is incredibly helpful, for someone like me it’s also overwhelming. Even when approaching a much more accessible tool, like Arduino, circuit building can seem like something only experts should do.

That’s why I’m so thankful for kid-friendly tech companies who want to make this process simpler and more interesting for kids (and those of us with a child’s attention span for detail).

The first time I tried circuit building was with a Makey Makey, a kit that easily assembles into a simple circuit and allows you to use a variety of household items as computer keys (like food, pencil markings, and play dough).

I also brought it to work with me when I was running a summer kids program and got the kids to assemble it themselves. They loved the experience and were full of questions about why and how we could turn cucumber slices into a piano keyboard. I can only imagine how a simple circuitboard like the Makey Makey, or circuit stickers like those at Chibitronics, could make simple physics that much more exciting to learn. Continue reading

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3 Things I Learned During My 3 Weeks of Internet Deprivation

John and I moved back to Victoria at the beginning of September. I didn’t bother calling about internet set-up until we arrived. I figured it couldn’t be that long of a wait.

I was wrong, so very wrong.

Apparently, when all the students of Victoria are trying to hook up their internet, the wait can actually be quite long. Nearly three weeks long, to be exact. In those three weeks I learned a few things about myself. Since today is our first day with internet in our new place, I thought I would share what I learned with you.

1. It’s Easy to Fall Behind Without Home Internet 

It’s not like the internet was completely gone from my life for the last few weeks. I could still walk to a coffee shop or stay late at school if necessary. Unfortunately, since school started the same week we arrived, I almost only sought out internet when I needed to do some homework. It’s been particularly difficult to keep on top of my readings, since the majority of them have been online so far. I’ve spent several full days camped out at the nearby coffee shop just trying to stay on top of them. Then, this past week, I got sick.

Angrily, I continued to drag myself to the coffee shop in my pyjamas to finish my homework before they closed at 6 pm.

I’m an adult, and I have my own laptop that I can bring with me. As inconvenient as it is, lacking internet doesn’t actually prevent me from doing my homework. However, for a lot of young people without home internet it’s incredibly hard to keep up with their studies without home internet. This problem is sometimes referred to as the digital divide or the homework gap and generally tends to affect low-income households.

These numbers are based on an American study. You can find information about the digital divide in Canada by clicking here.

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3 Things Christians Parents Can Learn From the Death of Leelah Alcorn

On December 28th Leelah (Josh) Alcorn committed suicide. In the Tumblr note she scheduled to upload after her death, Leelah implies that her parents’ strict rejection of her identity was one of the factor that led her to this decision.

I’m not a parent, so I don’t want to ignorantly hand out parenting suggestions. However, I do want to start a dialogue about this story in the Christian community.

Instead of offering my own naive words of advice, I’ve pulled out three quotes from Leelah’s note to focus on. Each of these three points highlight things Leelah seemed to deeply wish that her Christian parents would understand.

1. You can’t force your child to accept your beliefs

They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight christian boy…

– Leelah

I love what Jamie (the very worst missionary) once said on this topic. In her post titled “Not All Pastor’s Kids Are Christian. Sorry.” she talks about her own experience as a pastors wife, parenting a child who now identifies as an atheist. While Jamie expects their children to act respectful towards her and her husband (and their chosen profession), when it comes to their faith she only asks her children to be honest with her in their journey towards truth. She doesn’t ask them to pretend to be something they are not:

“Believing in Jesus? Receiving His redemption? These are not commands to be given by a father and obeyed by a child. They are a loving invitation from God to his people, every last one of His people, and He is patiently awaiting their reply…”

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Shame Day: Treatment of the Poor

I work with a population the vast majority of whom live below the poverty line in one of tougher zip codes this side of the Rockies. I won’t say it’s the least stressful job I’ve had, but for all sweat shed and sleep lost, if nothing else you get an up close look at a part of life most people don’t want to even acknowledge exists.

Let’s talk about the poor of America, and how you’ve got a lousy attitude about them.

Now you might be thinking “Geez, stop the presses, a Commie is ranting about the treatment of the poor.”

Touché. Continue reading