Category: schools/formal education

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.


Eco Action Trump Cards

We picked up a pack of these cards, by EcoAction Games,  in central London and the simple pictures could be useful and appealing for children from about 5 to 8 or 10. Younger kids might not be able to play the game in earnest, but the cards are a great tools for talking about energy and the environment.games_trumps1

update for 2017

EcoAction Games has abandoned the name Eco Action Trumps to avoid association with the incoming US President Donald Trump. For just the price of the postage and processing you can get one of these old decks:

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!

human circuit game


The London-based group Technology Will Save Us features the human circuit game for kids. Using low-tech stuff, kids simulate sending electrons (such as pieces of fruit or clothes pins) through a human “circuit”

There’s a handy “instructions” sheet and printable resources for the circuit including batteries, switches, lightbulbs, and so forth. Although this is useful for a classroom, could you make it work at a kids birthday party in some form of “pass the parcel”?