Yesterday we spent the day playing.
As part of the Building Learning Communities conference, we joined member of the Group for the afternoon to try out some very creative new tools for teaching and learning (disguised as play).
Beyond having a very cool space in which to work (that’s the main room pictured above), these people get to investigate how young children learn and how to spread that spirit of creativity throughout K12 schooling and beyond.
Mitch Resnick, the director of the Group, noted that Kindergarten is becoming more like the upper grades when we should actually be working to make the rest of a student’s education more like Kindergarten. Unfortunately, he’s right.
For our session, half the group worked with Scratch, a new program that allows students to use some basic programming tools to create some pretty sophisticated animation. It will be a free download when it becomes available later this year.
But that’s about all I know about Scratch right now since my group played with Cricket, a new package similar in concept to Lego Mindstorms. The difference is that Cricket uses different kinds of sensors to create less robotic projects.
My partner and I put together and programmed the Franken-vehicle above. At the tail end is a sound sensor so that when you make a loud noise (like stomping on the floor), the motor turns on for a random amount of time moving the car.
While the process was great fun, it also required a lot of imagining, planning, testing, reflecting, and revising – the same problem solving process we want our students to learn and use.
And, as Mitch told us, success and satisfaction in life increasingly is going to depend on the ability to think creatively.
Which is something you can’t test using a multiple choice test.