David Cole of CV2 and I went to Denver, CO to hack notebooks with the second cohort of Intersections and the Denver Writing Project’s Tech Matters group. Now in our final installment, we reflect on a parent-child workshop with The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose from Saturday, June 28.
The workshop at The Tech involved a couple of firsts for us: our first museum workshop and our first intergenerational workshop. To adapt our previous workshop model for this particular environment and audience, we collaborated with members of the museum’s education and exhibitions teams: Bridget Rigby, Prinda Wanakule and Rebekah Nelson. Our other workshops had all been for educators, so we had always included opportunities for discussion, planning and reflection. We cut these sections out which left more time for pure making and circuit play. We also decided to suggest a lower age limit of 9 years old given the size of the group, number of facilitators and complexity of the task. This was a good call in retrospect. We did have some younger makers participate and they did struggle—and not always in the good, productive way that comes with making. I was a little nervous as I’d never designed a parent-child workshop before, but excited to see how it would turn out.
As a friend of mine says, “Parents are their children’s first and most important teachers.” Working at six tables with 3-4 pairs, it was wonderful to watch adults and youth learning alongside each other as peers. Parents modeled problem-solving skills as they worked through the different activities. Youth came up with ideas to extend their projects. The pairs collaborated with the others sitting at their tables.
Another interesting phenomenon was how these participants worked through the activity sequence. We had handouts that demonstrated how to make a simple circuit with one light, a parallel circuit with multiple lights and how to add a switch. Our previous workshops were more formally facilitated; each one of these activities was a separate undertaking. Here, participants chose to adapt their previous circuit to include the new functionality. For example, we saw a lot of people opting to hack their simple circuit to add a switch or to add a parallel circuit to their simple circuit.
We also had a group of educators attend from the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s STEAM team and San Joaquin County Office of Education. Hacked their notebooks with great gusto and came up with some really imaginative projects. Watch Sandra Yellenberg explaining the visual aid she created using paper circuitry to illustrate magnetic fields.
The parent-child pairings worked really well. Generally speaking, there aren’t a lot of youth learning experiences that let them see firsthand how adults tackle new information and challenges. By working with and helping a trusted adult, they have these important behaviors and strategies modeled for them, which they can then use themselves.
As for things we would change, we needed to stress to everyone that the materials they received at the beginning of the workshop were all that were available so that they could have planned how to use their circuit stickers across three activities. I’d also make the workshop shorter: 3 hours was too long for many of the children, whose ages skewed to under 10 years old. While some makers of all ages stayed engaged for the full workshop, many of the younger ones were done after 2 hours or so.
All in all, we felt this workshop was a success. We certainly enjoyed watching everyone hack their notebooks and share the communal joy of making.
Next up: we reflect on our first Hack Your Notebook Day by exploring the tweets, videos, pictures and blogs of participants from around the country.
Read more about Hack Your Notebook at The Tech on their blog.