Tag Archives: kids

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

Advertisements

Eight Things I Learned in Indonesia

A little over a year ago I spent four months in Indonesia. I didn’t really travel across the country, at least not in the way you would expect during that much time abroad. Instead I had the great privilege to live in Indonesia, and see it from the inside. It’s hard to put to words all that I learned, and impossible to do justice to the people I met and the experiences I had. Here is my attempt to share are a few things I learned while I was travelling.

DSCI0220

1) Hospitality

The first notable quality of almost every Indonesian I encountered, and especially of my host family, was their hospitality. Within 12 hours of arriving my concept of generosity and hospitality had been put to shame. My hosts not only shared their home, they shared their family, lives, and friends with me. I was adopted into their social circle, taken for day- or week-long trips by their friends while I was there. I was honoured to be one of the first people to greet the family’s first grandson alongside the immediate family.

DSCF0815

2) Hijabs aren’t scary

This is a fairly potent topic these days so I won’t comment too much. Over half the women on Java wear hijabs, a head covering worn by Muslim women. When I asked why they wore them, all the women I asked answered with “I wear it because I choose to.” I began to recognize beauty and comfort in these headdresses, as well as freedom of expression. These women were neither ashamed nor pious in their religion, it was simply a part of their life.

DSCI0470 Continue reading

Five Requests Of An Angry Young Man

I’m not going to pretend that I speak for all Millennials.

I grew up overseas. The 90s nostalgia over cartoons, cereal, and toys was never part of my life. I’d made plenty of trips back to the US, but never really spent any time in the culture until I was 17, arriving on the shores of the new world like the opening of some cliched immigrant story.

tumblr_o0ghzxggr51ujwj3ho1_500

Not quite so dramatically, but I was still very much a stranger in a strange land…

So maybe I’m looking at things through a strange, distorted lens. Maybe I’m alone in feeling that I’ve been seriously shortchanged on my future in the land of opportunity.

But I don’t think so.

Still, as I was writing this, I was starting to have second thoughts. Maybe my tone was too harsh, my criticisms to generalized, my frustration too warrant-less.

And then I watched this SNL skit titled “The Millennials

“Beautiful twenty-somethings (Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson, Miley Cyrus, Jon Rudnitsky) search for the love and success they’re entitled to on The Millennials.”

We watch a couple god-awful caricatures of Generation Y make outlandish demands of their sensible, long-suffering precursors. Near the end of the sketch, one of the smarmy Millennials threatens to jump out of a window. The two older workers stand back and say:

“Just do it.”

apwe

Cue the applause and cheers from the audience.

So yeah, **** being nice and measured here. Let me break down what I’m sick and tired of hearing from Gen X and their Boomer counterparts:

I. Kindly Ease Up With Demanding That I Get Married/Have Kids

Yes, Millennials are getting married later than previous generations, but the average has only only gone up by a couple years. Yet to hear some folks talk, you’d think Millennials were actively attempting to dismantle the institution of marriage entirely.

I guess I just don’t understand what the big deal is.

Right along there with the pressure to get married is the pressure to spawn offspring- though again, the exact why isn’t ever really covered.

It almost seems to be presented as some kind of civic duty. That establishing the nuclear family is vital to ze velbeing of ze fatherland.

And I could deal with that.

I disagree with it, but I could deal with it as an argument. Just not one presented by the Boomers and Gen Xers.

I mean, seriously.

Boomers? Continue reading

Why I Can’t Wait to be a Teacher

John and I recently found out we were accepted into the education program we’d applied to. I wasn’t exactly surprised that we were accepted (since we both have a great deal of experience working with kids), but I was surprised at just how ecstatic the news made me. Maybe I’m feeling motivated by my student loans, since they’ve just been there, looming. Maybe I’m just excited to move beyond the academic world of writing essays for affirmation. Then again, maybe I’m just excited to start a job that I love doing.

As I head towards my new career I feel a little torn by the stigma the profession carries. Here in Canada, many people accuse teachers of being overpaid for a job they don’t consider very difficult. Then there are the teachers who have worked for years only to be burned up and spit out by the system they dedicated their lives to. Some of them have asked me if this is really the route I think is best. There’s also the general sentiment that “those who can’t do, teach,” so despite my own excitement over my career path, I often feel the need to defend my choice or explain that “I might explore other options later.” Not to mention that, as a woman, it feels like I’m giving in to that traditional cliche of finding the kind of job that people can classify as “women’s work”.

Yet in spite of all the ideas about teaching that I’ve internalized, or at least had thrown my way, I keep feeling drawn back towards the profession. Finally, I’ve allowed myself to recognize what an amazing and rewarding career path it is. Don’t believe me? Well, let me explain.

You get to be creative

Last summer I got a job running a kids’ program at the local library. My role consisted of reading books to kids, encouraging them to read at home, and doing a few crafts with them. Basically I was babysitting them for an hour so that their parents could have a break.

While I knew I would enjoy entertaining the kids and reading children’s books (who doesn’t love reading children’s books?), I had no idea I would become obsessed with crafting and building forts. After a year of focusing my attention on a computer screen, I was suddenly able to make stuff by hand. It was bizarrely exhilarating.

forts

A few things I made out of old fridge boxes for the kids to play in. The Minecraft creeper is a little worse for wear, but that’s because the kids were throwing beanbags into his eyes and mouth. The fishing poles that the kids would drop into the fishing pond also became thoroughly destroyed.

Continue reading

The Christian Paranoia Industrial Complex

Disneys Mulan came out when I was 12, and youd better believe I was excited about it. I was the girl who reacted to dresses and stockings with outrage and got big heart eyes at the sight of swords, so a girl dressing up as a guy and going to war was exactly my jam. Shortly after watching it, I remember climbing on a playground after church with a friend, while my brothers and I quoted the funny parts at each other. I asked her if shed seen it yet.

No…” she replied. I heard it promotes ancestor worship and stuff.

This caught me up.  Yes, in the movie Mulan prays to her ancestors for help and protection, and in true Disney fashion, the ghostly ancestors are seen discussing her plight.  12-year-old-me wasnt sure how to respond.  It didbut it hadnt occurred to me that it did.

I guess…” I said.  Kind of.

I’ll convert for the parties.

I found myself thinking about this exchange recently, while my husband and I watched through Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix.  I realize we are WAY behind the times, but wow did we enjoy it, despite neither of us really being anime fans.  It was such a great story, with excellent characters, and it was deeply refreshing to see a fantasy series that wasnt set in pseudo-medieval or pseudo-viking times.  The show also depicts a variety of ethnicities and cultures, most of which are based on eastern civilizations.  Its great.

Of course, there are references to various elements of eastern spiritualitiesreincarnation, qi energy, a spirit world, and featuring heavily in one episode of season two and recurrently through season three chakras.  

During that chakra-heavy episode, I couldnt help but hear my friends voice NoI heard it promotes eastern mysticism. Continue reading

5 Classic Films I’m Going to Force My Kids to Watch

Okay, I realize I don’t have kids yet, but I probably will eventually, so bear with me. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the way watching movies have changed. When I was a kid everything was on VHS. You owned a few (or a lot) of movies and you watched those over and over until you could pretty much recite them by heart. If you were lucky, on nights when a friend came for a sleepover, you might get to go to the video store, where you would get to spend hours perusing the shelves for the most interesting-looking VHS. Unfortunately, my kids probably won’t have that experience.

I’m basically being the millennial version of this right now.

Even if there are a few video stores kept alive purely on nostalgia (like the one in Victoria, B.C.), John and I aren’t the kind of people who would bother buying a VHS or DVD player when we could just hook up our computer to a TV. So my kids will probably never have to watch the same show twice (unless they want to or I make them). Between Netflix and YouTube, there is an endless world of movies available. However, rather than let them just watch the newest flashiest shows around, I’ve officially decided I’m going to make them watch the classics with me. Here are a few movies that will be at the top of my list (for this particular list, I’ve decided to leave out cartoons to focus on the live-action films that have stayed with me through the years).

The Princess Bride

When I was a kid I LOVED The Princess Bride. The only thing was, I did not pick up on any of the sarcasm. In my little kid brain it was just this magical tale full of adventure, passion, and rodents of unusual size.

As an adult, I get to go back and laugh at the dry humour peppered throughout.

Yet somehow, even though I now know it’s a comedy, and I can laugh almost the whole way through the movie, the ending still gets me. In fact, I think it’s still one of the most poignant revenge plots I’ve seen.

You all should know how this line ends.

Continue reading

Will Blogging Now Come Back to Haunt Me Later?

The short answer is yes. In many ways I don’t mind putting my thoughts out on the no man’s land we call the internet. I’m sure Foucault would have all kinds of things to say about the kind of surveillance we submit ourselves to as bloggers, but as an aspiring writer it’s unrealistic for me to remain entirely private if I want to build up my writing experience.

Using social media isn’t really all that different from being in a panopticon.

That being said, everything we put online is going to follow us for the rest of our lives. Yes, most of the time people just don’t care what my (or your) opinions are, so we can slather them all over any social media site with little to no consequences, but, then again, sometimes those opinions may come back to haunt us. This past month I started several blog posts only to put them aside for a variety of reasons. I hope to come back to them again at some point, but for this post I thought I would share a few of those reasons and why they make me think twice about what I share. Continue reading