Friday, April 24, 2015

Hands-on fun: Roald Dahl meets the makerspace!

It seems like no coincidence that even as advances in technology make many aspects of life more intangible, deeply satisfying traditional pursuits such as oral storytelling and handicrafts are gaining tremendous popularity and respect. Very often this results in an intriguing fusion of old and new: listening to personal stories not around a campfire or on a neighbor's porch, but via a podcast that brings you voices of people you'd never otherwise cross paths with. Similarly, makerspaces meld remarkable new materials with time-honored skills.

In 3rd grade we combined literature appreciation (my personal favorite Roald Dahl novel, Danny the Champion of the World) with Design Thinking and a big dose of makerspace fun.

I don't want to spoil the end of the book for anyone who is unlucky enough not to have read it, but the challenge we took on was designing a better mouse pheasant trap!

Step one: researching and taking notes about pheasants. Danny's father is a poacher, which means he has a deep understanding of the animals he hunts and the environment they inhabit.

Step two: collaborate with your partner to design a trap that will foil greedy Mr. Hazell's plans but not do excess damage to the pheasants or their habitat.

Step three: receive constructive criticism from another team. Offer the same in return. Does your trap show creative use of limited resources? Does it exhibit knowledge of pheasant biology? Respect for the earth? Is it likely to work? Consider the feedback and make improvements!

Step four: build, test, tweak, repeat!

Some of our young makers will be exhibiting their traps at the NWAIS Makerfest next month. Several teams are already hard at work creating extensions to their projects--programming simulations, using 3D printers, and more!

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