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Chain Reactions: Prompting the Unexpected

We have been exploring chain reactions at the Museum for years.  Building tracks and paths for balls to roll on is a fun activity that teaches persistence, prototyping and teamwork.  Recently I taught two separate classes centered around chain reactions.  One was with a group of second graders from the Ellis School.  Their science teacher wanted to expand upon her students’ learning with a trip to MAKESHOP. The
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Gabe and the Dragon

Throughout the winter months we have been doing a lot of medieval themed programming in MAKESHOP.  We made capes and crowns and castles.  The one thing we were missing was a dragon.  So one morning I decided that I was going to make one out of cardboard.  I was just about finished with the head and neck of the dragon when a teenager named Gabe stepped into the workshop.  I invited him to help me work on the dragon.  
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Teaching Teachers About Scratch Jr.

A couple of weeks ago I was given the chance to teach a group of Pre-K teachers about Scratch Jr.  You can learn more about Scratch Jr. from a previous post by Molly here.  This was one of the most fun professional developments that I ever taught.  The plan was to introduce the teachers to a couple of creative programs that could be used in their classrooms.  Scratch Jr. took center stage.  The program is really intu
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Kids work on a post-it note based board game design

Game Design Workshop

On March 15th, as part of the 4th annual National STEM Video Game Challenge (presented by the Smithsonian in partnership with The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media), 16 kids showed up in the museum theater to spend a few hours learning about game design. Beginning with some discussion and sharing about what makes a good designer and what games everybody enjoys, participants then went through
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How to control the game?

I was given the opportunity to work with an after school class at the Environmental Charter School in Pittsburgh a couple of weeks ago. The teachers wanted the kids to explore circuits and prototyping along with something digital. A great way to explore all of those things at once is to create a physical circuit that lets you interact with a digital computer program. We use a tool called a MaKey MaKey to allow the st
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Art Conference + Sewing = ???

In September, Pittsburgh hosted the Arts and Education Partnership National Forum (AEPF). Our executive director, Jane Werner, was asked to speak at the Forum and we were asked to have an accompanying table with a small taste of what goes on in MAKESHOP. We brought along a lot of example projects, wooden joinery blocks, circuit blocks, soldering tools, etc. We also brought along a lot of sewing materials. The plan wa
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