One thing we consistently observe in workshops with parents and kids at the Maker workshops for families is how children and parents are eager to use tools, technologies and equipment that are difficult to obtain.
But besides the tools and equipment which allowed participants to geek out, there was a certain wholesome learning to the three low tech activities that we had – Cup Automata by Din Chan of Madlab and facilitated by Elda Webb of the Curious Design network.
Children and parents were working together to make a cup open and close its mouth using a paired set of cams. Here were some simple teachable moments.
A child was trying to cut a skewer with a pair of scissors. Elda pointed out to the child that after scoring the first lines, she could simply break the skewer. I was amused by the look of delight on the child’s face (and relieved that the scissors didnt have to be damaged 🙂 )
A mom and son were having a conversation over the activity. The son made a remark and the mom exclaimed “Oh, i had no idea that you know so many things”.
Often, working side by side with a child, on seemingly simple things opens up conversations and confidences
If you want to explore automata on your own, check out this nifty intro by the exploratorium.
The hydraulics activity, put together by Craft minds was a huge hit. One of the boys stayed only at the hydraulics activity station for the whole of the three hours, after building two models of his own, he kept playing with the many different models and samples that Grace and team had put together. The Craft Minds teams organizes workshops periodically, so do check out their website. Find out more about hydarulics and Penumatics
The solder iron is a fun tool to introduce to young kids – imagine the power of melting metal. Having parents and kids together makes it more feasible for us to introduce tools such as soldering irons and glue guns to children as young as five, and we have, in the past, had several activities which needed the iron, including DIY speakers, PCB soldering etc. This time around, we used the well known vibrobot activity to introduce soldering to the participants, and added an additional twist by giving them the use of solar panels.
It was a bit of a bummer was us when we woke up to a rainy cloudy morning, which meant that the families couldn’t test their vibrobots in the full sun. However, we did have some lamps for testing. Check out the video here! I had a great conversation with a dad who was more curious than his children to learn about solar panels in series and parallel.
There were also opportunities to loose your marbles in the DIY marble machines activity facilitated by Anjali and Sophia. Catch the video here where a mother and son made a swimming pool tipper!
En Dian was ready with basic electronics in a know your circuits station where kids and parents learnt to spin motors and make cars. You can download the content here to play on your own! know-your-circuits