This entire “project” started by mistake, well, sort of.
When we were preparing to redesign TrepStudio we were looking through the lens of organizing our space in a wonderfully playful way. We covered one entire wall with pegboard that we hung up our LittleBits Pro Library on. We put Legos in buckets and hung them up. We also painted our repurposed tables in bright colors and then clear dry erase paint. We made a separate “design studio” with our large format printer and video editing bay. We thoughtfully created a large space for prototyping with more durable tables covered in chalkboard paint near our prototyping bins. We would like to say that there was some serious curricular reasoning behind this, but really we were focused on designing organized, beautiful play spaces.
Into this space we started injecting cool/weird stuff. We would like to be able to give you a “five cool things to make kids learn” listicle, but really it was just stuff that we found at Trader Joe’s and Amazon. We found a bunch of small pumpkins that we put on our communal desk. We bought some cheap air plants from Amazon and put them in a pile. We subscribed to Fast Company and Make Magazine and left them around the space. We did not have much of a purpose for this beyond the stuff was just kind of cool, and we liked having it around.
What happened kind of amazed us. Riverpoint Academy is blessed to have a fully working Makerspace that our kids are being introduced to. We have the LittleBits Pro Library in our space, but we also have a 60 Watt laser cutter, a CNC machine, 3D printers, and various Arduino materials.
What started happening with this cool stuff was that kids just started using it and reusing it. It took some time, but the kids started picking up the air plants, and the legos, and the magazines and the pumpkins and started making cool stuff with them. They made “Franken-pumpkins” with the LittleBits and the pumpkins. One student laser cut little plant holders so our air plants could be stuck onto our pegboard. The same student laser cut a magazine holder so our magazines could go on the pegboard. Another group of students used our Legos, LittleBits, and the Make Magazines to make a series of “mash-up” vehicles. The students started to play with a purpose, and in the process they were learning how to use all of the materials and tools in our space in a way that really enhanced the sense of play that we are trying to inject into our planned TrepStudio curriculum.
Ultimately, what we found was leaving this stuff around was organically developing the curiosity, observation and empathy skills that we have been so intent on purposely developing throughout our daily planning. So…the “sort of mistake” taught us quite a bit.
We will be exploring this “mistake”, and what it means for curriculum in a blog post next week.
Thanks for reading.
John and Regan