Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Physical Computing Class - Inspired but intimidated

After reading all the introductions by member of my new Maker class,  I almost dropped out, but then I remembered the advice I have given so many young women  during my 30+ years of teaching   about the 'experience gap" that women face.   Many of my female students have found themselves the only female in a class where the difference between them and other students is more than gender -  it's also the difference in experiences they have had  (or lacked) that will provide a frame of reference for all they will learn. 

  • I remembered Amber signing up for computer programming instead of the art class her guidance counselor tried to steer her in because Ms. deLaBruere told her programing was a gateway to so many opportunities;  
  • I remembered Samantha telling me that she survived her first semester as a civil engineering student in college because , thanks to Ms. deLaBruere,  she understood that she was 'not stupid' but had an experience gap with the tools they were being asked to use. 
  • I remembered  Tony, Bud, and Corey whose desire to learn how to make a web server soon was fueled by brand NEW  (local) access to the WWW - the first year that it was NOT a long distance call via CompuServe.  That year I let them "make/build" the first school web server from spare computer parts in my classroom.  I didn't know how to do it, but I knew how to encourage them and support them to find the resources they needed.   (oh and I also enrolled in Marlboro's new graduate program - Masters of Science in Internet Engineering) 
  • I remembered my first semester as a grad student at Marlboro building a Linux server, feeling like I was stumbling around in the dark all the time - but persevering and learning not how to make a Linux server - but learning 'engineering thought' and experiencing what it was like to "truly LEARN" how to learn. 

So inspired by Amber, Samantha, Tony, Bud, Corey and thousands of students that have come through my classroom,  I'm staying -- but I'm super intimidated by everyone else in the class.

My experience has mostly been to recognize the value of making and supporting others to make because of its contribution to the process of learning.  I've owned  Pico Crickets, Picoboards, a Raspbery Pi, Mindstorm,  WeDo,  conductive thread and wearable sensors (Animomagic)  along with Tinkertoys,  Legos,  Lincoln Logs, PlayDogh and have created some amazing learning environments for students using these tools.  Just as an orchestra director does not have to know how to play all the instruments in the orchestra, s/he just has to know how to encourage each player to be as good as they can be and to play together -- I was very good at understanding and encouraging my students to reach their goals and to use some of these tools to help kids learn how to learn.

Unfortunately, I packed away or gave away most of my toys/tools when I  gave up my apartment to move full time  into my home on wheels - this 1983 Bluebird bus.  (our location - where ever the bus is parked, see map on our blog.  We are heading to South by Southwest, which should be the ultimate maker experience.
My home and office

But I'm thinking that the 'bus' will provide many opportunities to uncover the "maker" wannabe part of me and I'm in close proximity to a 'real maker' - as coach/ husband/ friend who promised to support me through this venture.  He's really good at  explaining things and letting me 'do' and not doing for me so I think this is going to be fun.

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