Thursday, December 6, 2012

Compelling Kids into Questions

As usual, Thanksgiving in Evanston, my hometown, was filled with several nights of feasting, telling stories, and exchanging the latest tricks and ideas about technology in our various professional and personal realms--from my dad's work with the Euro team of publishers working on editing and layout of his translation of Vesalius to my cousin Jesse's creative endeavors in video making with production companies in New York. My dad's wife, Tina, has worked as an executive for an educational publishing firm for many years. Her son works for Google in Zurich. All in all, it's a pretty interesting mix of people and ideas and lots of opinions.

My son and daughter look forward each year to the gathering and especially to their time with Jesse. Every year, Tina has a secret box of tricks filled with games and treats that she portions out at opportune moments in the weekend. This year, she had a "Makey-Makey." Jesse and the kids spent a solid couple of hours tinkering with it.

Really, this thing has so much to offer as an example of what 21st Century learning is all about. The best product from the two hours of play was a long list of science, math, art, and programming questions that emerged organically from their experience. The video says it all.

Check out the video from the makers of Makey Makey too. What a cool tool!


  1. Witnessing the kids' enthusiasm was a highlight , but it was just the beginning. Questions are indeed the key--and so often kids don't ask questions because they are so enthralled with the here and now. This Makey Makey video demonstrates the point. If we had had time, the next phase would have been for Jesse (or another adult) to begin asking provocative questions about "why" and "how" based on the cool things that were happening. Then the kids would have started trying to figure out events through trial and error and piece together some early explanations.

  2. Your observation about what a next phase might mean is important. That's why I think activities like this are such great starting places for courses or units of instruction. We have the give our teaching context. Thanks for contributing to the experience!