During Catholic Schools Week we had a "day of play" to coincide with the February 1 Global School Play Day. There was a time during the day that students paired up with other grades and did some good old fashioned playing of board games and similar activities. The idea was NOT to rely on technology, but just to play and have fun. So what do we do when it is time to visit the technology lab for class?
I tossed out our planned activity and let students experience a spur of the moment "makerspace". The maker movement has been gaining momentum in education over the last few years. You can read more about it here and here.
When they walked in the room students were told that they would not be logging onto their computers, but instead could browse the "stuff" accumulated on the tables and work alone or in a team to create something out of the "stuff" that was available. The hastily assembled collection included such things as cardboard, paper cups, toothpicks and rubber bands, old decorations, track ball computer mice from bygone days, and floppy disks, and whatever I could pull from the closet or bins or shelves.
What was the result? You can see for yourself in the video below. In a "debriefing" session on February 8 students seemed to agree they loved the activity and were eager to do it again. What were the negatives? With some prompting from me, it turns out that we wished we had more time to work and some better "stuff" to build with. But all in all it was a fun experience, and I am very impressed with the fourth graders' enthusiasm and spirit of adventure. Not one person said, "I don't know what to do" or "I can't do this". They all felt confident in their ability to use their imaginations and give it a shot. I think we need to plan for more of these activities in the future - and with better "stuff".
We also had a little session on February 8 on "floppy disks" since they had no idea what they were or what they had been used for in the past. Along with that we looked inside a computer at the mother board and the various drives. I am sure they would have taken the whole thing apart in minutes given the chance.