The past few weeks we have been very busy! We switched groups so that everyone who participated in one activity (either Game Design or Squishy Circuits) at the beginning of the year gets to try the other activity. Last week we did the introductory groundwork lesson for each group, and next we will be moving on to more exploratory fun. Here are a couple photos of what we've been doing:
This was our second, and final week, of working with Squishy Circuits for half of the Michigan Makers students. This week, the Squishy Circuits were taken up a notch and we introduced all kinds of bells and whistles (well, really they were motors and buzzers) for the kids to tinker with. Sam started the lesson by going over the basic mechanics of Squishy Circuits again so that anyone that wasn't there could learn and all the others could refresh their brains after a week apart (and a day full of standardized testing!). The kids pretty much gave us the lesson at this point, they remember every detail and were inclined to teach the others who hadn't worked on Squishy Circuits the week before. It was great to see the interest the kids had in each other and in the topic.
Once the refresher period was over, the kids were introduced to the motor and buzzer as new elements they could incorporate into their Squishy Cricuit designs. After some minor technical difficulties and problem solving with the demo (which the kids took charge of troubleshooting, of course), the kids were asked to draw a design of how they were going to incorporate the buzzer and/or the motor into their designs before they could go ahead and create. This helped them visualize their goal and give us a sense of how much they really knew about Squishy Circuits. But not so fast, Kristin presented them with a challenge like no other: Create a pig with eyes that light up and s tail that spins. She told them if they could do it she would give them a special badge since she couldn't do it herself. This ignited the fiery students and one even responded, "So that means I would be smarter than a college teacher?!" From here on out, we saw a clear unified goal among each group: show everyone that you are smarter than a "college teacher." And with this new underlying agenda, the kids went off and experimented with the Squishy Circuits like I had never seen before.
And the amazing part: They did it! There were groups that were able to make a pig (an abstract pig of course, it seems our makers are also mini Picassos) with light up eyes and a spinning tail. What I found most interesting was that the kids didn't just look for answers, ask for help, or even cheat and look over at other groups, they all did it for themselves and it resulted in a lot of circuits that worked but looked very different. It is amazing how creative and thoughtful these teams were. Click here to check out a video of one of the pigs in action!
Now we got to the hard part, getting the kids to stop tinkering and actually pack up. Before we all knew it it was almost time to go, and it was pretty clear everyone was having too much fun to even notice and do anything about it. Even though this was the last time this group would be working with Squishy Circuits, I am excited to see what a whole new group will be able to make, and all the new things they will invent with Squishy Circuits!
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