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S.T.E.A.M. Maker: Steaming Up Creativity in Germantown

S.T.E.A.M. Maker

Steaming Up Creativity in Germantown

September 12, 2013

You are probably familiar with the acronym S.T.E.M. and know it stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. When the acronym changes to S.T.E.A.M., like our homeschool program title, art is added into the mix to include the large, expansive notion of creativity in general. On our first day of our new S.T.E.A.M. Maker homeschooling program at beautiful Awbury Arboretum, we watched a TED Talk by Richard Turere: My Invention that Made Peace with Lions.

Some of the important points we took away from this talk were:

  • Like many youth in the Maasai villages of Kenya, by the time he was nine, Turere was responsible for caring for his family's herd of cattle which is synonymous with their livelihood.  The reality of that responsibility really resonated with our group.
  • Turere had next to nothing to work with and he still found a solution to his problem.
  • He failed many times before he succeeded.
  • He taught himself because there was not an adult who had the answer.
  • He didn't understand the workings of electrical circuitry. To learn how it worked he took apart many electronic devices including his mother's new radio. (Ingenuity sometimes comes at a cost: his mother was less than thrilled to see her precious radio in pieces.)
  • What he hated most (lions) were ultimately what dramatically changed his life for the better.  He learned to find the gift hidden in adversity.
  • He helped others. After solving his family's lion problem, he immediately helped install the same device for his neighbors and then he began showing others how to make his solar powered "lion lights" so the technology could quickly spread from village to village.

On Thursday afternoon we began S.T.E.A.M.I.N.G. We added an I for inventions, because the world needs new, clever ideas, a point Turere exemplified with his solar invention that saved countless villages from lion attacks.  Through understanding  S.T.E.A.M. we have the knowledge to create inventions that make the world a better place.  My daughter, who came up with the I.N.G. idea, said that the N is for nonsense, a pivotal component to any process.  Young people intuitively know that nonsense is crucial for ingenuity, learning, wonderment, and fun because it is just such a mix that makes us want to wake up and  get into things and most importantly, be excited about them.

Being a catalyst for change, making a difference, inventing solutions, collaborating, being successful, are not things that await us when we reach that  nebulous period called adulthood. These are not things we have to wait for.  These are thing that are within one's grasp now.  We just have to begin wondering, what would it be like if...

This is my problem and I want to fix it.

This is the way it is done now, here is another option.

This is what the world looks like now and this is what I think it should look like.

The final G is for goal setting.  When we define the problem, we can begin to look for a solution. When it seems impossible, we can break it down into achievable pieces. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. (F.Y.I. the elephant is only an example. There will be no elephant eating in S.T.E.A.M. Maker, but there will undoubtedly be other nonsensical activities as demonstrated below) Homeschooling at its best is ubiquitous with nonsense.  I thank my daughter for pointing that out.

S.T.E.A.M. Maker

Goal: To move a body of water from point A to point B.

Method: paper cup brigade- the water is passed to each young person in line formation.

Two styles:

1. All young people work together in one line to pass the water from one container to the other.

2. Two teams are created and a race is established to determine which group can pass the water the fastest.

Which style do you think resulted in the most water successfully passed from one vessel to another?

S.T.E.A.M. Maker

If you find yourself tied into a pretzel with a group of  like-minded individuals, what  will determine whether you untangle into one group or two?

S.T.E.A.M. Maker
Following along with the theme of mapping started in the morning Global Studies program, we mapped out our special fantasy location, a place where we would like to go to think, create, and feel safe. We then created roads, rails, and streams and in some cases, bubbles, to connect us all together. This mapping project will continue to include the young people in Tuesday's S.T.E.A.M. Maker.

S.T.E.A.M. Maker

Thank you F, for pointing out this wonderful yellow woollybear (Spilosoma virginica) who was out exploring the beautiful day at Awbury.

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  1. I so appreciate the Talking Stick Team and the opportunity for my kids (any/all kids) to explore the world in this way and at this level! Thank you for the brilliant blog entry!