Two years ago I watched as my son entered kindergarten and wondered at all the sports activities. As the school year moved on I continued to look for some type of nonsports after school activities. I was looking for some type of science program. About this time I learned about the Tinkering School by Gever Tulley. I also became interested in Make Magazine and the programs going on at youngmakers.org.
After talking with several of the parents involved with these other groups and with the teaching staff at OLPH School I developed a program that we started to allow the kids to work on guided projects.
I decided that there would be three phases to each of our semesters.
Phase 1 Break Don't Make.
In this phase we take things apart. We learn to safely us tools and design a way to take things apart safely. I searched on Craigslist for people with broken dishwashers and washing machines. I was offered everything from big screen TVs to 1970's home entertainment centers. In the end my problem wasn't getting stuff, it was find things that we could use that would be educational. I decided we would take apart VCRs. It was amazing the number of great parts we found in a used VCR. We even had time to fix one or two things.
For the first couple of weeks we just reveled in destruction. Radios, TVs, computer laptop, and my old Ipod all gave their life for us to learn how to use our tools. The last week of Break Don't Make was a the day we took apart the dish washer and washing machine. I had arranged to have the recyclable parts picked up by a local company and a neighbor who did recycling of metal. It was amazing how little real metal there was in the dishwasher.
Note to other people doing this take the hoses off the dishwasher a few days before so all the water can drain out. Another good hint don't let the little guys climb inside the machines.
My major disappointment was that we were not able to get some working appliances we could examine in working conditions before taking them apart. I also wished I could have gotten some older hardware to do comparison between older and newer.
This year we hope to have access to our new local hacker space. I'm talking with them about us coming to their area as we work.
Next time we will talk about Phase Two the Social Club.