Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cheap tools for kindergarten (Part 6)

Yes, I know, and I will get back to part 5--language trumps all--but I'm jumping ahead for the moment.

I got to spend some time with a couple of Real Live Scientists® yesterday, and it turns out that one of them does curriculum work for the pre-pubescent set.

We compared notes, and I'm stealing from her today.

I've known her husband for over 30 years. When we were younger, much younger, Joe (I'll call him Joe) used to take everything apart. Everything. He was pretty good at putting things back together, but not nearly as awesome as he was at taking them apart.

I scrabbled up some money, and bought me a Tekna regulator back in 1979--Tekna was da bomb. Joe got his hands on it while it was still in the box, and took it apart. That's what he did, and still does, though he gets paid handsomely now for figuring out how to put things back together.


Kristan (I'll call her Kristan) married a nut, but it's a shared trait. He builds Tesla coils, she sleeps in tepees, they both trek off to Antarctica more frequently than I leave new Jersey. She wants little ones to get to know the world better.

She lets her students take things apart. Here's the object, here's a screwdriver, take it apart. Kids quickly figure out that old stuff is a lot more interesting than the newer solid state stuff. The kids don;t even have to put things back together--it's all about figuring out how something works.


(I'm going to start doing this at the high school level.)

Exploded typewriter by Todd McLellan, permission pending--I was impatient.


Jenny said...

The joy of taking things apart is something I learned from Gever Tulley (founder of Tinkering School). Now my students find that unscrewing screws and pulling apart broken electronics is one of their favorite things to do. They don't currently care about how it works, much less putting it back together, but they are having a blast taking things apart. I have faith that with continued opportunities to do so they will begin to find joy in putting things back together and determining how they work.

doyle said...

Dear Jenny,

Here's where my ignorance showed--taking things apart seems to be a big thing in the early grades.

I might encourage kids to take apart less electronic stuff--maybe wind-up toys, or old typewriters, manual alarm clocks. Hard to grasp how electronic stuff works by looking at diodes and such.