Reflecting on priorities of family & work
One of the things I enjoy most with my kids is making things with them. More accurately, I love giving them the skills and tools to make things and then watch them apply those for their own creations. I blogged about this several weeks ago here. This past weekend we had the opportunity to go to the Disneyland of making – Maker Faire 2015. For those of you unfamiliar with this event, think 25,000 people all descending on a single site, dedicated to making – from sewing to coding, wood-working to 3D printing, and R2-D2 to Sphero.
This is our third year going to Maker Faire and I thought I could share some highlights from this year’s event. Unfortunately, we were only able to be there for about 4 hours. I say that so as you understand the amount of stuff my kids could do in that brief time frame.
The highlight for me and my kids, was the Lighthouse Community Charter School Creativity Lab area. They had tons of hands-on projects for fair-goers to work on and displayed a lot of the work the students of Lighthouse have been engaged with throughout the year. My kids loved the project they did where they got to create cardboard robotic hands. My son went his own way, to create a spider instead of a hand. The thing I love about making is that my kids learned about joint articulation without even knowing that’s what they were doing. My daughter was staring at her hand to figure out where to put each piece of the straw and determine exactly how big to cut it. As a bonus – they got to make their own buttons!
Another great display was put on by Dremel – the manufacturer of power hand-tools. I really appreciate how they put these power tools in the hands of 9 year-olds and just let them create. While they also had other tools set up to carve and create a toy car, my kids wanted to focus on the leather bracelet making. They used their creativity and diligently etched away at the leather. They were excited to learn we have a Dremel Roto-tool at home and I’m sure we’ll be doing some interesting projects with it this summer.
Proof that sometimes the simplest things provide the most pleasure, my kids took 2 chopsticks, a piece of cloth and some bubble solution to create giant bubbles. We spent about 15 minutes there, but I think they still would have been there if I let them. There is something magical about bubbles and my kids kept busy amidst all sorts of other crazy things going on.
The actual first thing we did involved my kids’ favorite product – duct tape. It was hosted by a woman named Sophie who has a cool website that is all things crafting with a great resource for duct tape projects. This particular project was pencil toppers – another thing my kids love (for some reason). Here, they got to make their own pencil toppers which they brought to school today. My daughter came home and made one for her friend who was having a birthday party that afternoon.
Another cool thing they got to play with is Tynker. Tynker is a platform to teach kids how to code. My kids used it last summer for hours and hours and learned a ton about coding. Now, Tynker is upping their game by introducing a program to teach hardware programming – how to program a simple robot and a drone. I know what my kids will be working on this summer. I already went on Kickstarter and pledged to their latest campaign to get our own Ollie and Parrot Drone to program via Tynker for this summer. My kids are psyched about this (and so am I).
For the ride home, we bought paracord bracelet kits. My daughter finished hers on the walk to the car and my son was done pretty quickly into the ride home – they were pretty beat after all of the walking around and playing and were drained (just like after a day at Disneyland).
This was just a brief glimpse into all of the things my kids saw at Maker Faire this past weekend. Because of events like Maker Faire along with our guild of Curiosity Hacked, my kids know how to sew, solder, etch, prototype, draft, code, and much more. They’re not 100% proficient on all of them, but will continue to work on those skills and others. They are only 9, after all.
Fostering the maker ethos is just as important as learning all of these skills and both of these together, for my money, is more valuable than what they are learning in school (a false dichotomy, I know). Developing their creativity and ingenuity along with the skills to act on them will help prepare them for any future economy and not force them to rely on working for others to make a living. My kids will be producers and not consumers now and in the future and be able to chart their own destiny; at least, that’s the vision I hope for them and hopefully, the opportunity I am providing. What I really hope is that they find their passion and are able to parlay that into a rewarding career.
What I do know, is that my kids love making things and I love making things with them.