Stimulating Learning Projects
Some of this is due to process - chairs in rows, fixed class period length, isolation between classes. Those have to be fixed too! But if you design a good agenda, then let the structure follow from that, the structure will take care of itself that way.
Some big disclaimers
- Lots of the notes below don't take into account (yet) ability level and prerequisites (e.g. you can't study the mathematics of flight if you haven't learned to multiply yet). (Learning Curve)
- There are also often issues of how to maintain interest in a context when it takes a long time to learn the abstractions behind it (e.g. if it takes 2 days to build a catapult, but 3 months to learn the math that will result in a better design, what then?).
- hmm, I think there's a bad assumption in there - I bet you could teach some amount of the math, then supplement it with automated tools ("CatapultBuilder") that would make that stuff really simple.
- Since everything is intertwingled, any single topic can lead to anything else. I err below on the side of getting too tangential, for the sake of inspiration.
- use D And D approach to have outcomes and FeedBack
- Game Theory: who are the various players/agents? What are their multiple goals (and meta-goals)? Do those goals conflict? Do they have to conflict? What are the rules in the game? How real are those rules - are they official rules, or just traditional forms of behavior? What happens if you break those rules in certain ways? Is there a way to change the rules? What pieces of information do some parties have which others lack? What are the implications? Why might players chose to share or hoard certain types of information?
- open/dynamic systems: what are some causal links? Invent some more! Which ones seem the strongest? How can we test those theories? If we significantly change the state, does that change which causal links become most significant?
- integrate studies with the lessons of General Semantics.
Some specific ideas:
Learning from Sept11 terrorist attacks
- history of Middle East, history of Afghanistan (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India, etc.)
- history of Islam, varying factions of Islam
- history of Judaism/Christianity in the Middle East, varying factions
- Fundamentalism/extremism in all religions and non-religious thoughts
- US Foreign Policy in the Middle East, policies involving terrorism, policies involving Sovereignty of foreign governments. Blow Back. Implications for current internal issues in Middle East countries.
- corporate interests in US Middle East foreign policy. In other US foreign policy, in US domestic policy.
- varying policy meta-rules: Non-Interventionism, Prime Directive, International Development models
- Game Theory of Security, safety, Freedom. As relates to Dealing With Terrorism (airport security; immigration; ...). As relates to other policies (FDA, consumer product safety).
- Free Speech. Free speech on college campuses; in high schools. Freedom Of Information Act.
Math/Physics of athletics
- punting, placekicking, golf club swing, ball throw: what are the goals (distance, time to target, accuracy, etc.). What are degrees of freedom of action? How might outcomes vary based on parameters of action (e.g. if you try to kick higher, how does that affect strength of the kick).
Build machines, study theory behind performance affectors
- Kids Invent http://www.kidsinvent.net/ from Ed Sobey
- HowToons http://howtoons.org/
- start with learning about how an interesting object/machine works
- HowStuffWorks http://www.howstuffworks.com
- John Taylor Gatto writes often about the Shelter Institute (where you can learn to build a house) and the Maine Maritime Museum where you can be an apprentice to learn ship building (Sail Boat).
- lean-to, tent, Geodesic Dome
- paper airplanes, balsa planes (rubber band powered)
- Philip Greenspun recommends a shop course centered on building a Bicycle. At least 50 percent of what is taught in High School Math And Science can be motivated by the Engineering challenge of making a bike that functions properly and weighs less than 100 kg. In particular one can dream that this Project Based Learning approach would rescue computer instruction from its current abyss. Instead of teaching the kids how to use Microsoft Office and write lame little graphics programs in VB or Java, we'd show them how computers can become analytical tools. For the hands-on oriented kids we can let them machine their own parts and maybe do some welding, thus combining math and shop in one period!
- go-karts (?)
- Dan Lyke recommends Lindsay's Technical Books (Highest quality books, new and old, for experimenters, inventors, tinkerers, mad scientists, and a very few normal people...)
- Dori Smith pointed to Science Toys You Can Make With Your Kids also available as as book ISBN:1556525206 (semi-related see ISBN:0740738593)
- pseudo-structures: Tinker Toy, Meccano Erector Set
Build analog (maybe low-digital) Electronics (that do something cool/fun)
- ForrestMims has an Electronics Learning Lab from Radio Shack. He also wrote some books on learning electronics.
- see Adam Curry on building transmitters with Radio Shack kit.
- elenco Project Lab kits http://www.littlesmarties.com/shop-by-brand-7.html
Micro Controller projects
- keep a WikiWeblog! (Need easy way to do very granular access control, so different groups can read different pieces.)
- use a Digital Camera - no film expenses! Capture little vignettes, or learn more formal composition techniques. Write stories around pictures.
- visual, Performing Arts (Arts And Crafts). Group involvement. Intern with someone (ApprenticeShip).
- hack a Chumby?
- Write Social Software (e.g. Weblog Engine, RSS aggregator, BlogWeb connector, etc.)
- Computer Game-s (Simulation-s) that realistically model physics. See book
- Robot and related program-controlled toys: build or Hack
- which Language For Learning Programming?
- David Handy wrote Computer ProgrammingIsFun to teach Python.
- Logo language
- Processing, Alice, Scratch, RenPy, Squeak Smalltalk....
- Magic Sculp http://www.kk.org/cooltools/archives/000676.php
- build Musical Instrument-s
- acoustic *
- Electronic Music
- sequencing, Music Mouse (by Laurie Spiegel), etc.
- Music Theory
- Hook Theory http://www.hooktheory.com/music-theory-for-songwriting
- see also their db of song tabs http://www.hooktheory.com/analysis
- drawing on the computer
- Generative Art?
Do Outdoorsy Stuff?
Some sources of inspiration
- Charles Eames' Mathematica (and Powers Of Ten) http://www.powersoften.com/
- somebody wrote a series of stories, each about a specific constant (e.g. the speed of light) from a physics equation. In the story, that constant was manipulated, showing how that would affect reality.
improv --2003/11/08 23:55 GMT
I would suggest having kids study Improv. I've taken improv classes as an adult. Improv teaches mostly through fun exercises and games.