Category: experiential learning

why kids should map places

Middle school kids in Nashville Tennessee have been successful in getting new bike infrastructure because of their mapping efforts.  Araz Hachadourian, reported in YES! magazine  that ‘Nashville Teens Mapped Their Daily Routes—And Got a New Bike Lane as a Result. In Nashville, Tennessee, and Chicago, city planners are responding to demands for better neighborhood mobility and bicycling infrastructure.

Photo by Gabriela Aguirre-Iriarte

And it makes sense that planners would respond more strongly to kids…and I bet they’d respond even more strongly to younger kids who get involved in mapping the needs of their neighbourhoods and towns.


Everyday Science with Kids


I saw a great article over on Forbes by Chad Orzel, a physics professor and author. He reported on the idea of not just talking about science with kids, but actually doing science with your kids. He gives the example of his daughter who read that a person is about 1% taller in the morning than in the evening…so they experimented and measured Chad a.m. and p.m. And guess what! It’s true! They were able to determine a 0.73% difference. He comments,

I mention this not because it’s a particularly impressive experimental achievement, but precisely because it’s not a particularly impressive experimental achievement. It needed a tape measure, a stepstool, and remembering to re-measure my height the next morning. But both of the kids were really excited by the whole idea.

It’s just one example of taking opportunities to measure and experiment with simple things. Noted–a “weird science facts” book for 7 year olds can be helpful. See the full article.

superhero prosthetics by kids, for kids


The Superhero Cyborgs program, run by KIDmob and Autodesk, invited 10-year old Jordan to design and build her prosthetic super hero arm.

FastCompany writes:

“The program connects children with upper-limb differences with professional engineers so that they can design and create their own custom-made prosthetics that do, well, whatever the kids want them to do.”

In the case of Jordan, that arm was a glitter cannon. Read more at Fast Company.

resources for parents on STEM education

A visit to the Science Center in Bicycles, Airships, and Things that Go by Bernie McAllister, Illustrated by John Aardema

A few items for parents interested in STEM education:

“STEM-Works, a resource for teachers, mentors, parents, STEM professionals, volunteers, and everyone passionate about getting children eager to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math.” From the engineering school at Southern Methodist University

The University of Washington’s Childcare Quality and Early Learning group has a presentation on Infant and Toddler STEM. This document helpfully breaks down what STEM is in terms of early learning:

“Science is a way of thinking. Science is observing and experimenting, making predictions, sharing discoveries, asking questions, and wondering how things work.

Technology is a way of doing. Technology is using tools, being inventive, identifying problems, and making things work.

Engineering is a way of doing. Engineering is solving problems, using a variety of materials, designing and creating, and building things that work.

Math is a way of measuring. Math is sequencing (1, 2, 3, 4, …), patterning (1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2, …) and exploring shapes (triangle, square), volume (holds more or less), and size (bigger, less than).”

Finally, this post on Getting Smart is from last year but helpful still, “5 Ways Parents can support STEM learning.” The methods include encourage questioning and visit a science museum–which is exactly what our characters do in the title Bicycle, Airships, and Things that Go!