An In-Depth Look at our KidsCamps

July 13, 2012

Krissie Olson discusses Gears and Gadgets. We like to say around the MakersFactory that we’re making makers at our kids camps.But we were making more than that at this week’s Gear and Gadget class studying a universe set in 2 dimensions. For 3 hours students showed unbelievable focus as they explored the biological and mechanical systems operating in a 2D world, as well as the solutions necessary for the beings to thrive.

A.K. Dewdney’s book Planiverse served as the springboard for the discussion and MakersFactory co-founder Chris Yonge provided the details and parameters about the Arde world that the mathematician author Dewdney had created 30 years ago. Sure, it was an obscure reference, but the Planiverse world is an ideal way to explore simple concepts of gears, machinery and even some astronomy that tied in perfectly with the class subject matter.

The easy part about exploring a 2D world is that all you need is paper and pencil to draft your systems. But here’s the clincher at MakerFactory. Chris laser cut many of the prototypes from the Planiverse book so the students could physically manipulate them and test their efficacy. Though Dewdney never had the opportunity to test his models in this way they worked perfectly, and inspired our students (and us) to try to extend and improve them. We found that you must remove all preconceived notions about how a mechanism ought to work because the 2D world is not a flattened version of the 3D realm but rather an entity in itself that can be imaged from scratch if you have the interest and time to do so.

By day’s end, students were able to formulate models of working can openers, skateboards, rocket ships, houses and steam powered ray guns in true engineering fashion with enthusiasm and intent. I daresay that we tapped into something bigger-the students’ natural curiosity and ability to solve problems, analyze systems and share solutions. Making makers is only the beginning. We want to be making inventors and explorers with fresh ideas and unique perspectives. We want people to understand that taking an unconventional approach to problem solving is the only way we move forward as a society. We want to help people realize their own vision of creation and self-reliance. These camps are laying that foundation.

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