#STEAMmaker: Setting Them Free to Learn

I saw this video today of rescued beagles experiencing sunshine and grass for the first time and I instantly recognized what I was seeing as student behavior at STEAMmaker Camp.

I recognized the dogs’ reactions and behavior instantly because I’ve seen it many times with students who are experiencing an open learning environment for the first time.

At first, the students are timid and we have to help them recognize they have choices. As they stretch their cognitive muscles and test their limits, we, standing to the side,  find ways to help each of them trust us and re-vision the perception of what a “teacher” is…what “learning” can look and feel like…to help them understand that what they’ve previously experienced and have known to be true about schools isn’t necessarily the full spectrum of what learning can be.

After the first day of STEAMmaker Camp, after we’d helped the kids find their way around this new modern learning environment with challenges, after they learned they didn’t have to ask permission to get a drink or go pee, we asked them to make a list of things they’d learned that day.

Here’s that first-day list (many repeats omitted):

  1. Slope and incline are important in building a rubber band car.
  2. Measure twice; cut once.
  3. Understand how a 3D printer works.
  4. Learned how to hand sew and machine sew.
  5. We can make paper with paper.
  6. Learning how to navigate a MacBook (we know PC).
  7. Learned a LOT about Sketchup.
  8. Sharing is very important.
  9. Teamwork helps!
  10. We have to get out of our comfort zones.
  11. I can be a better leader by letting go.
  12. There are way more electronics than just Apple.
  13. Divide and conquer.
  14. Making paper is easy.
  15. Take your time and don’t rush.
  16. Failing is good.
  17. It doesn’t always come out right the first time and we have to break down our thoughts in steps.
  18. We can fix our mistakes.
  19. It doesn’t always come out the right way the first time.
  20. We practiced problem-solving, patience, and how to have fun and learn at the same time.
  21. We are working more as a team.
  22. We can have fun while we’re working.
  23. Looks (aesthetics?) are important.
  24. Learned to accept failure and rethink.
  25. You can’t fix a mistake without knowing what the mistake is.
  26. You can’t always use the materials you want. You can’t always get what you want.
  27. You can’t always have the time you want to so you have to improvise.
  28. Patience is very important.
  29. Listen first. Do later.
  30. How to use MaKey MaKey and littleBits.
  31. Learned what a strandbeest is.
  32. Never give up.
  33. You can make a banana piano with electricity.
  34. It’s difficult to cut foam board.
  35. Have a plan and a prototype before you start.
  36. Measurements are important.
  37. Being specific helps.
  38. We need to work on working together.
  39. Learn from our mistakes and fix them.
  40. It doesn’t work every time.
  41. We can break down our thoughts into reality.
  42. We can make mistakes.

After one day, these are some pretty powerful lessons. They were taking their first tentative steps in the grass and sniffing the air. Over the next 4 days, we continued to introduce more experiences and more thinking. We asked kids to practice their new lessons. We intentionally created situations where they “accidentally” learned lessons and had to problem-solve ways to overcome the obstacles…all while having a boat-load of fun!

Imagine what our schools would be like if we could help them discover these types of things all year round!

For more information about STEAMmaker Camp, click the links below or email me to bring STEAMmaker Camp to your school or conference.

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Written by GingerLewman

  1. […] I saw this video today of rescued beagles experiencing sunshine and grass for the first time and I instantly recognized what I was seeing as student behavior at STEAMmaker Camp. I recognized the do…  […]

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