Monthly Archives: July 2015

Camp Base Strongsville!

Strongsville has been a pleasure, the kids were all very excited and ready to build immediately.  It was amazing watching how creative the kids got with some of the materials.  Rubber bands was one of the most commonly used materials this week.
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In the picture above, this group made a maze for marbles to go through using only wood with preset holes, golf tees, and rubber bands.  My mind has again been expanded with how the kids brainstorm together on how to go about building certain things in the most effective ways.  Although most of them did not have much experience with neither Scratch or using power and hand tools, they got the hang of it pretty fast and easy.  Most of the groups had ambitious plans for their sculptures and they all turned out pretty successful.

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Overall the week was great and below is a picture of a bracelet that one of the kids brought back for me, braided out of rubber bands, it is very comfortable and well made.

 

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This Week at Strongsville

The Imagination and Invention Camp and the Maker Corps. (Steph and I) went over to Strongsville this week. The kids were bursting with energy which is always good but challenging for them when it came time to get the introductory stuff out of the way. Many of the kids had never used power drills or saws before so I was somewhat apprehensive about how the camp was going to go down but I must admit that I was pretty impressed by what I’ve seen this week. The kids have made really nice progress in their craftsmanship, teamwork, and focus. It’s like a completely different mentality at the camp and they are doing great with it. A lot of the kids have managed to all but finish their projects by Thursday and some of the ideas they have come up with have been really creative. My favorite one that I’ve heard thus far has been a group that is embracing the somewhat unpredictable nature of such complex machines and have created a machine that has multiple endings for multiple outcomes. I really like the new mindset that’s present in the group where instead of trying to exercise control over every imaginable variable they have instead tried to reactively plan for simple unpredictability.

Today is the last day for the kids at Strongsville and it’s the first time Steph and I have been leading a camp on our own. It’s a great experience to get to work with the kids and to try to help them solve problems with their own solutions. This week the kids have had plenty of confidence and I think that that has helped them greatly in coming up with creative quick fixes. I have my fingers crossed that today will go just as smoothly and that we’ll get to see some awesome final projects.

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More Pictures from Fairview Park!

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Less Time Wasted, More Time Working!

Ah, another fantastic week of learning how to build and incorporate technology into cool and funky sculptures with Scratch programming.  The kids this week have been enjoying their time at the camp very much, they are like little ever flowing fountains of energy and ideas!  So many ideas, and such a room filled with so many different personalities and perspectives that sometimes it doesn’t always work out so naturally.  This week, there is a large number of kids in this camp, and there are also more kids in each group who seem to desire taking leadership, but it is really important to remind them of how to slow down and think together and that everyone is an essential part of the progress, and it is so rewarding to watch them grow from this process.

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Above in the picture is a group who has gotten so much work done in the past couple days of building.  Once the kids come to an understanding with another, it is so beautiful how well they work together silently, almost as if their minds are connected.  We have learned so much from them, and little tricks that we can share with the next camps.  There are simple little things for example, the group in the picture above taped down their dominoes on just one side so that setting up again wouldn’t take as long.  So smart!  Stay in tune for more, more pictures to come!

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Final Day at the Fairview Camp

Today is the final day of the Imagination and Invention Camp at Fairview Library and I have some pretty high hopes for the kids and their final Rube Goldberg machines. Yesterday was their primary work day and I must say that the kids made some pretty substantial progress on their projects. Some are extremely vertical this week which is unique and challenging while others run more horizontally but incorporate a lot of variations in speed which is also really awesome. The projects this week different than previous camps for a number of reasons. One is that for practically the first time some of the groups and really considering design. There’s one group of boys who have only used one color of duct tape for continuity’s sake and have tried to hide all their joinery. It’s been fun and challenging, even for me, to try to work around these criteria and these project looks pretty smooth!

The introduction of pulleys and a fresh supply of wood has really helped the kids this week too. A lot of the projects seem to involve larger components which I believe to be a result of the new materials. It’s really awesome that the kids are taking full advantage of them. Another interesting observation for this week is the presence of a lot more leadership. Almost every group seems to have a member most of the kids look up to and make sure to communicate with. The kids still enjoy their time and put in good effort but the structure of the groups is definitely closer to a hierarchy with this camp. So far though I must say that it has benefitted the kids at Fairview Library. The kids have made really impressive amounts of progression and I have no doubt that we’re going to have another week of really strong and well-working sculptures that the kids can be proud of!

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No Magic Hands This Week!

The term “Magic Hands” refers to the use of human intervention in order to make the Kinetic Sculpture work completely. With such a tight deadline and such awesome and often lofty goals most projects in our Imagination and Innovation camps require the use of magic hands. This is really quite alright however most of the kids are little disappointed whenever the see that their project had a flaw.

The kids this week seemed to be challenged a bit by building all their pieces to work as one project. Most of the groups didn’t even get to testing until the final day so I was worried that their projects might rely a lot on the use of magic hands. However, when we started up on Friday the kids were insanely productive. It was awesome to work with them and see them build and put together their projects so fast.

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In the group that I most closely helped with the kids were able to assemble all their components into a a massive 15 foot long kinetic sculpture. The machine included a Plinko-like ramp with marbles that rang on glass jars, fans that blow down golf balls, dragon animations (a recurring theme among the boys), and of course a nice array of dominoes.

When it came down to presentation time all the groups projects went off the first time without the use of any magic hands! It was a first for the camps this summer and the kids were definitely proud and happy with the outcome. It was really gratifying to be able to be a part of it and I’m proud of the kids from Warrensvile Heights!

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Imagination, Innovation, and Invention in Warrensville!

IMG_2718The kids this week were less experienced in Scratch programming and building, so they were a little more nervous than the kids in the previous camps.  But after all of the introductions, demos, and getting to pick their groups to start working on their final kinetic sculptures, as usual they automatically jumped out of their chairs to get started!  Although a couple kids had a hard time getting along with their group (which is something to be expected) they progressively learned to communicate and cooperate with their groups so that more work can be established effectively with some of our guidance as they spent more time with each other.   It is reassuring to know they will come out of the camp with not only good and educational experience, but also a life experience full of active and exciting memories.  We gave them more time this week to build because the building progress has been slower than usual, mostly because they are very detail oriented which is a very positive thing.  Last week we did not have any Maker Corps camps, so we were with Ben Horvat who taught a video gaming camp using Scratch programming at John Adams High School.  We learned so much more about Scratch already, more about its potentials, and how far it can be stretched.  Overall we have been very busy and learning so much more.  Keep in tune for the next camp!

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Scratch Camp at John Adams

Last week, due to the extended weekend Steph and I didn’t have a kinetic sculpture class to work with so instead I went over to John Adams High School where kids from all around the area were attending a number of summer programs. The one that I was working with was Scratch based video game design. This was interesting to me specifically because my experience with the Scratch program had thus far been based on using the LEGO WeDos and creating short animations. It was nice and even a little overwhelming to learn to the specific coding needed to make characters jump or run or bounce off of objects but I (definitely as well as the kids) felt a sense of reward from accomplishing it. The kids are older so the code that they learn is more complex and not as intuitive as I was used to but I think the theme of video games was a really good idea. Most kids in the program play video games which is a good entry point for them. When they’re told they can make one of their own the interest level certainly peaks.

Another observation I made is that whenever and where ever possible the kids preferred to deviate from Ben’s (the instructor’s) designs and make personal choices. I really liked getting to see their sense of independence coming through even if it’s in a relatively minor way because that’s what makes the camps so much better than your average school curriculum. First, their given some entry point that makes them interested in doing what their doing and second they’re allowed to tailor it (where it doesn’t directly interfere with the plan,) to suit their needs and preferences. It’s subtle but this sense of empowerment is super important to how the kids learn and I think it’s working well at this camp.

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