Tie And Jeans

Marshmallows before robots

I can hear the carpool conversation now. “Mom, I was promised robots and 3D Printers, but all we got was marshmallows.”

It’s true. On our first day of Makers we did the marshmallow challenge and not much else. Tomorrow? Tomorrow we’re going to be sitting in a circle and playing clap games! Shenanigans!

I’m sure that some of my students will go home griping about this extended intro full of camp games and puzzles. I’m doubly sure that those students probably won’t be the ones reading my justifications on the class blog, but I’m gong to write them anyway.

First off, we’re a community of makers. Learning with each other requires some measure of learning about each other, and that’s doubly true for me. These courses will be filled with opportunities to discover your own problems and design your own solutions, but we start together.

Second, it’s the first week! I’m not sure what your summer consisted of, but the only things I did over the break that happened in precise 44 minute chunks was stream episodes off Netflix. Learning and problem solving are slow and messy. Making productive use of these weird chunks of time will be a challenge for you, for me, for the class, all year long. So, one the first few days, we start small. We’ll get a lot more out of these classes if they don’t end in a mad panic.

Finally, don’t think that everything in Makers is just what it appears on the surface. There’s a million name/trust activities that teachers use in these early days. I chose these, and chose them for specific reasons. Sneaky, tricksy reasons.

We’re going to build robots. We’re going to build new CNC machines. We’re going to use all sorts of familiar tools and learn to use more that are new to you. To do all these things together means knowing and trusting each other enough to experiment, make mistakes, and erupt in mad-happy dances when the moment calls for it. Our path towards that point is a bit slow, and it starts with marshmallows.

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One thought on “Marshmallows before robots

  1. Idid the marshmallow challenge on Saturday with our new students. Apparently while I was one of the room, one of the old parents said loudly and publicly, “all the other schools we tried had great academics, but didn’t have anything going on for our kid who is a builder and maker… Mr. Watt’s classes are a real asset, to our kid and our school. There’s nothing else like it.”

    And I imagine theres nothing like your program in your neighborhood, either.

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