Archive for April, 2013

LEGO Can Put a Smile on Your Face

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

I recently came across a posting on Facebook that had this picture. There has been around 2,000 comments. Many speak about gender stereotyping and toys that are marketed to girls etc.. I found the picture intriguing because of what she has just accomplished. Her smile of pride and joy is just overwhelming. Even the jeans fit the scene perfectly. These are jeans ready for play; ready to get torn or dirty if need be; ready for the unpredictable, precarious, not always what you predicted world of the MAKER.

I talked about this with my wife and shared that it is sad so many toys out there are just kits where you can make one thing and that is it. She pointed out that if a child builds, let’s say, hogwarts castle from a kit there are still opportunities for imaginary play afterwards. “That is a point”, I responded but then it occured to me that a child could build hogwarts castle with plain Legos along with items from the dollar store and still get to play imaginary games. If you want to see a number of vintage LEGO ads you can find them at DESIGNBEEP.

Need a Job? Invent It

Monday, April 1st, 2013

This article’s title attracted my eye. It came to me via a facebook entry from Montreal Mini Maker Faire. It is not an article about MAKING per se but there is a correlation. Need a Job? Invent It was written by Thomas L. Friedman for The New York Times Sunday Review. It focuses on what Tony Wagner, a Harvard education specialist has to say in his book “Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World”. The part that struck me was his response to Mr. Friedman in an email. He wrote; “Today, because knowledge is available on every Internet-connected device, what you know matters far less than what you can do with what you know. The capacity to innovate — the ability to solve problems creatively or bring new possibilities to life — and skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration are far more important than academic knowledge. As one executive told me, ‘We can teach new hires the content, and we will have to because it continues to change, but we can’t teach them how to think — to ask the right questions — and to take initiative.’ ”

When I was researching for the Working Hands Project I was asking people about the value of industrial arts classes in school curriculums. What seemed to come through is there were many benefits; comfort working with objects and tools, problem solving skills, imagination, stick-to-itiveness, cooperation, appreciation of materials, courage to try something different and dealing with failure. Curious that there seems to be a correlation with what is talked about in Mr. Wagner’s book.

Classes like these have unfortunately been taken out of most school. One of the encouraging signs is that they are coming back to some degree. They call them Maker Spaces now and are integrating with the digital world through now affordable devices like 3D printers, laser cutters and CNC machines. There is also some effort in having hands-on education in regular classes for those kinesthetic learners. Want to know more? You could check out the Maker Education Initiative, The Crucible, RAFT, North Bennet St. School and in Canada Maker Kids is a mainly afterschool program that enables kids to build their ideas with real tools and materials.