In a Glasgow project to get preschool children the opportunity to learn to ride a bike, advocates aimed to increase children’s physical activity in the city. Over the course of its first 2 years, Play on Pedals http://playonpedals.scot engaged more than 7000 preschool children using balance and pedal bikes. They worked by offering training to early years teachers and volunteers, who learned about cycling as well as bike maintenance. The project also ran a bike donation and redistribution program. The program is set to expand through Transport Scotland. Follow them on twitter: @playonpedals
Play on pedals at the Bike Station, Glasgow January 2017,
Photo Andy Catlin
In our book Bicycles, Airships, and Things that Go, we try to illustrate a lot of positive family cycling, with spreads featuring:
- many different kinds of bikes
- bike parking
- bike bus
Great ways to expose the kids to bikes on the pavement and on the page.
Bicycles, Airships and Things that Go, written by Bernie McAllister, illustrated by John Aardema
[Order the book on Amazon http://a.co/60EG7LD]
Yes, we like our own book, but there are others out there to consider! Here are a few that have come onto my radar lately…
My Mommy is an Engineer
Kerrine Bryan published her children’s book after she got fed up wth gender stereo types in careers portrayed to kids. She commented that she fell into engineering by chance, but now is an ambassador and speaks to students about it:
I found that there was a negative perception, particularly by women, of what engineering involved, which often changed once I spoke to them.
I felt that if we could change the perception of certain careers from a young age then this could have an impact on study / career choices later in life. Gender bias also starts at a young age. Many existing children’s books only cover a small range of careers such as doctors, nurses, firemen or train drivers, and sadly often with gender bias. By exposing them to a wider range of options with our books, I felt that this could help with future skills gap and gender bias issues.
The Story of Space
The Guardian highlights a book about space:
From the oceans to the cosmos: The Story of Space (Frances Lincoln) by Catherine Barr and Steve Williams is boosted into orbit by Amy Husband’s illustrations, ably straddling the divide between humour and wonder.
The Baby Biochemist: DNA
Meanwhile Margot Alesund earned her PhD in biochemistry and worked as a bench scientist in industry, but after her daughter was born she took a career break. She realized many basic models in her field were easily illustrated and explained to kids, so “The Baby Biochemist” series was born!
Yes, you read that right. There’s a new Barbie in town. Barbie STEM kit (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math) offers a mini-skirt wearing technician—flagging up the first problem—who only fixes or builds domestic appliances.
Professional women have argued that the domestic context of the new Barbie reinforces the idea that a woman’s focus is and should be the home. The toy’s maker, Thames & Kosmos, counters that children at that age mostly know about things they find in their own houses, so the domestic focus is age-appropriate. However this argument doesn’t seem to hold when considering toys for boys, routinely featuring racing cars, farm tractors, and jets or spaceships.
Tereza Pultarova, reporting on the Barbie for The Institute for Engineering and Technology, notes that in the UK only 9% of engineers are women, the lowest proportion in Europe. If Engineer Barbie can encourage more girls to take an engineer’s path, does it matter that she wears a mini skirt? Should engineering necessarily take away a woman or girl’s femininity? Perhaps one thing we can all agree on – we need more diverse and creative toys to encourage STEM skills among girls.
Hybrid Play uses a smart phone and a giant ‘clip’ sensor
With the arrival of Pokemon Go, many parents noticed that a digital game can, in fact, get kids moving around outside. Pokemon Go uses ‘augmented reality’ where, looking through the camera on a device such as a smartphone, one sees computer imagery superimposed on a real life setting.
Now other companies are looking at the potential of enriching outdoor play using ‘augmented reality’ and other digital technology. This Guardian article profiles three companies getting into the field (along with useful critiques). I’ve included excerpts from the article:
Hybrid Play is a Spanish start-up which uses augmented reality (AR) – patching computer imagery on to real life – to transform playgrounds into video games. A wireless sensor resembling an over-sized clothes peg clips onto any piece of playground equipment. It then registers the movement of the children as they play and converts it into video games to play through a smartphone.
Greg Zeschuk, co-founder of gaming company BioWare (makers of the Jade Empire, Mass Effect and Dragon Age series), is now head of the AR start-up Biba. Its premise is that “all the playgrounds on Earth are actually the wreckage of robot spacecraft”. As kids enter a playground they meet a robot companion on their smartphone. Zeschuck has admitted that “after a career of putting people on their butts for hundreds of hours playing games, I’m trying to pay back the world by making games that make kids go outside.”
TP Toys, for example, recently added AR to its portfolio. The Lil’ Monkey climbing frame comes with an app that children use to play with a monkey character that climbs on the frame and suggests different games and levels to complete.
Have you tried any of these? How could they be used to enhance ecological learning or get kids involved in designing?