The Children’s Innovation Project – Building Blocks of Learning
This month WQED Multimedia’s Learning Innovation initiative highlights the “Children’s Innovation Project.” This unique educational program began as collaboration between Pittsburgh Allegheny K-5 kindergarten teacher Melissa Butler and Jeremy Boyle, a resident artist with CMU’s CREATE Lab. The two wanted to engage young children in broad critical learning with a focus on exploration, expression and innovation with technology.
The project began in Melissa’s kindergarten class in 2010. Melissa and Jeremy created simple components -- at first, elementary circuit blocks -- that these very young students could use to learn about electricity and circuitry. With these components the children learn to make connections to objects in their own world, by exploring the insides of their toys and common household items like radios, telephones and small computers. In taking both simple and complex technological devices apart and reconfiguring them into something new, they also develop their skills in vocabulary, writing, art, mathematics and social studies.
According to Jeremy, “We’re very interested in thinking about having an active relationship with technology, rather than just passive.” Adds Melissa: “As a project of the CREATE Lab, we’re interested in technological fluency much beyond technological literacy. We want active engagement, having children understand how technology works and how they can be creators of technology, not just users of it.”
Pilot funding for the project came from SPARK, a program of The Sprout Fund. But the project has really taken off: partners now include Carlow University School of Education, whose graduate students regularly observe and participate; ASSET STEM Education, The Fred Rogers Center at St. Vincent College, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and others. Children’s Innovation Project is part of the Kids+Creativity network.
“We work with children to think about their habits of learning, and we work with teachers to think about their practices of teaching and learning, and so the project has become a partnership with many people in Pittsburgh who are thinking about what technology means and what learning means,” Melissa explains.
“Children will be likely to become engineers from the work here, but they’re just as likely to become a philosopher, a writer, an artist, anything,” Jeremy adds.
To learn more about the Children’s Innovation Project: info@CIPPGH.org
The Wonder of Learning Opens at The Convention Center
How do children think? How do they learn? How can educators tap into a child’s personal interests to spark creativity and learning? “The Wonder of Learning: The Hundred Languages of Children” explores this in a comprehensive and exciting exhibit on display at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center now through November. It opened last month with a reception attended by local leaders and educators.
The Wonder of Learning showcases the Reggio Emilia Approach, which evolved in the city of Reggio Emilia, Italy, after World War II. It allows children to learn by following their personal interests, using collaboration and relationship based learning. The exhibit showcases how children react to materials, writing, nature, ideas and more from their earliest years on.
This exhibit has traveled to 31 countries, including 40 cities in the US. It includes stations with media, objects, videos, the children’s work, and “The Atelier of Light,” an interactive exhibit for children ages 5-8 which allows visitors to experiment with different aspects of light.
Local hosts for the exhibit are The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), with Carolyn Linder and Sue Polojac leading a steering committee that included top local educators. The exhibit is free and open to the public Wednesday through Friday from 1 to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For information: www.pittsburghwol.org
Dr. Edwina Kinchington from Pittsburgh Science & Technology Academy (SciTech) recently won the 2015 Pennsylvania Outstanding Biology Teacher Award from The National Association of Biology Teachers.
Young learners experiment with casting chocolate in molds in an activity at Allegheny Traditional Academy presented by Assemble.
A recent Maker Education Meet-Up presented by The Sprout Fund was held at CMU’s Hunt Library. Hosts were IDeAte, the Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network at CMU.
Emily Simmons animates upcoming MAKER dates during a meeting at CMU’s Hunt Library, hosted by IDeAte and the Sprout Fund. Educators learned about CMU’s efforts in physical computing, learning and making.
Superheroes love science, technology, art and math, and learn all about these “powers” during Assemble’s Summer Camp session, Superheroes Assemble!
Some lucky kids became “Urban Eco Explorers” this summer at Assemble’s camp session that explored the environment, science, ecology and renewable energy.
Deadline is still open for Makers to participate in Maker Faire Pittsburgh, set for October 10 and 11 on the NorthSide. Makerfairepittsburgh.com/makers.
TechShop Director of Education Louise Larson, left, takes a turn at making buttons at the TechShop’s recent “21+Night.”
TechShop recently held a “21+Night,” with proceeds benefiting Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Hundreds attended and spent the night “Making” and acquainting themselves with the facility.
Anthony Klimko of Turtle Creek has been working as an intern at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit through the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board. He intends to major in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Special Education.