More Tinkering Less Formality

written on January 22, 2015

After writing Exploratory Science and Technology Project I sent it around to a few friends. Most people glanced at it and said it was a cool project. But I did receive excellent feedback from my friend Ed Semplinski.1

My first impression is too much initial structure. What got me interested in learning more was taking stuff apart to understand it better and then put it back together, improve on it or repurpose it. Curiosity or necessity drove the next step, not a lesson plan.

He continued to write “the project should help establish a few things and allow you to evaluate: their level of interest, competence, weaknesses2, how they learn and view the world.

Ed’s writing was excellent feedback.

Is this too formalized?

Looking at the Spudnik Project, it is too formalized. I followed the classroom model that pushes students down a defined path, to guide them through a series of learning objectives. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this model for mass education – but why did I force that paradigm onto a very different environment?

Two young minds, tinkering with items in their living room.

I am going to fork the project, and build it slowly, based on what they are curious about.

Let them tinker

We will start simple. Asking the question of what is a potato canon? How does it work? Hopefully this will advance the conversation along and we can build one. But possibly not. This is a risk I am taking.

They might not be interested…

…they might not be fascinated or curious with this problem. So we’ll journey down another path, and the project will change.

This is terrifying, because the question then becomes, how do I spark this curiosity?

How do I find out their interests? What if I don’t have the skill and knowledge to help them discover the answers to their questions?

This is the journey I am on. I’ll continue to update this site as we explore. Today is our first time meeting. I will explain the general idea of our times together:

  • Explore how things work.
  • Try to build something new.
  • To tinker.

The last sentence in Ed’s email read:

I think you will be most successful letting THEM drive the curriculum and see where you end up… maybe build an autonomous IH Scout?

Other resources

Ed also sent along a few links:

  1. I’ve written about Ed before, he has been a huge motivating and positive influence in my life.

  2. “tool usage, critical thinking, manual dexterity, >mental dexterity, patience”