* This is an excerpt from a presentation I made at Maker Faire, in San Mateo, on May 18 called "Bringing Making Out of the Makerspace". I'll be posting excerpts from that presentation this summer. I started with this post, Part I *
As you can see from the projects I've shown so far, I have a heavy mix of traditional arts and crafts materials with some technical components worked in. That's intentional. I like to mix the familiar with something new. The idea is for kids to say "I can do that". "I can paint". The familiar, the kids can handle on their own, and it gives them confidence. It's important to reaffirm the familiar – it's paint, you've painted before, right? The familiar brings confidence. The new – I demonstrate. I demonstrate to the kids, to the teachers, and any volunteers in the classroom. Then we practice. We light up LEDs. Then we test as we go.
These cards are a great example. This was project with a Primary Maker Club at a local elementary school. They're the Dunlop Dragons – so I put a dragon on the card. This looks like a colouring project, they've done that a million times before. The schematic – definitely new. The construction paper switch? No problem. Painting? Easy. The hardest part of this project is getting the positive and negative legs of LED lined up correctly with the battery. So first, we play with the battery and the LED. I show them how to light up the LED. I ask them to light up their LED just on the battery. Then we put in the card. Next – we test it. Using wires, and a buddy, we make a circuit to see if the LED lights up. Then we paint the circuit carefully. Painting is no problem. How to paint carefully – that is something they are already learning. And we can talk them through what is required to paint carefully to make a circuit.
Okay, so lets get ready. Sometimes, when I visit a class, I have 50 minutes. Sometimes, if I'm coming in for a recess program, I'll have 40. And sometimes – I'll have 25min. As far as supplies go, it's better to have more rather than less. I don't assume they have anything. But I have also found that it is crucial not to spend time handing out parts. I will pre-package everything they need into supply boxes and carry extras with me to use as required. This limits the time we spend getting everything handed out and maximizes the time they spend making.
For supply boxes I use these 8 1/2" x 11" copy boxes from my local office supply store. I stick a page protector on the front for any instructions or visual aids they might need, and I load up the boxes with the tools and components required for them to start working.
I also spend time prepping for a successful start. It's important that the kids start their projects successfully. A successful start means everyone can get started right away – and then we deal with the problems when they come up. The Prep work I do for one of our Break and Make workshops is a good example of this. These are the workshops where we take things apart. I go through each piece, make sure the first layer of screws are loose, and package it with the right screwdriver. I keep a bigger box of tools that the kids can come look through as they need to, but at least they can get started right away. That's one of my goals of prepwork.
* The next post in the series is here, Part III. *