Children are often unfamiliar with the concept of selecting and pursuing a topic or project of their choice that has very few rules or bounds associated with it. As a result, they are often at a loss as to how to proceed. They can have difficulty with the concept of doing something at school that is not for a "grade."
This Instructable provides a framework for implementing personal learning and project time in a middle school setting, although it could easily be adapted for use at any grade level.
By participating in personal learning and creation time, learners will gain first hand knowledge and experience in bringing an original idea from concept to final product, which will serve them well for the rest of their lives.
Step 1: Inspire
If YouTube is blocked at school, download or convert videos (using zamzar.com or equivalent) from outside the school network and play them from a local drive. To find relevant videos or photos at websites use the search terms "maker, DIY, invention, how-to, creativity, project build" and the like.
A list of videos that have been well-received by 12-14 year-olds is included in the Resources section of this Instructable.
Here are some tips for inspiring kids to learn, create and invent:
- It is important that the kids see a variety of example projects and people doing them. There should be things that appeal to both boys and girls. There should also be a mix of longer personal maker profiles and shorter demonstrations.
- Modelling the making and learning process is powerful. If you are doing this, then maybe you like to learn and make stuff too. Be like the crazy teacher in the photo, and bring in stuff you have made to show the kids.
- Just about anything will succeed in demonstrating that "cool stuff can be made" and "interesting things can be learned." Examples include: knitting or cross stitch projects, something you have published, a computer program, wood or metal working projects, handmade jewelry, model kits, art work, anything!
- Bring in an actual inventor, writer, or film maker to talk to the kids. This is not as hard to pull off as it may seem. Creative types are often anxious to share their knowledge and experience with young people.
- If you can't get an actual live inventor or creator to come in for a presentation, organize a meetup over Skype and project it on a large screen in front of the assembled class (or classes).