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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Simpson

The Serious Business of Play

I recently read Free to Make by Dale Dougherty and Ariane Conrad which talks about how the maker movement is changing schools, jobs and our minds. Dale is the founder of Make : Magazine and the worldwide Maker Faire movement.

In this book I read an inspiring story about a bright eleven year old boy named Quinn who had lost interest in school and had become uninspired. His mother wanted that to change that and discovered Make : Magazine and then took him to his first Maker Faire. It was at a workshop there that he learnt how to solder circuit boards. He went home and taught himself to code, he moved on to Arduino and then to making things. The following year he returned to Maker Faire as an exhibitor. He built a website to teach others how to program and make and built a shield for Arduino that makes it easy to plug in and add sensors to Arduino boards. One of the sensors he developed was a fart detector, I did mention he was a twelve year old boy! He had questions such as "how bad does it smell?" and "do I want to run away?", so he developed tech to help answer those questions.

Move on and Quinn can now be found teaching classes on coding to others, talking on industry panels and winning awards for his inventions. He has even launched a Kickstarter to fund the development and marketing of a new product. Quinn's story is inspirational but is not out of reach for other children. He was lucky to have the opportunity but is not dissimilar to others in terms of intelligence, which is why when he started high school he worked with the school board to start a makerspace to allow others the same opportunities.

While this started as a hobby for Quinn, he found a natural aptitude and love for making, coding and developing which has given him opportunities and options for the long term. These are the benefits of a play based, exploratory program where kids can get hands on. Like the CreoKit range our philosophy is not rigid, pre-determined outcomes but child led exploration. The best outcomes happen when children are free to experiment, make and design.

As Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich of the Exploratorium's Tinkering Studio in San Francisco say in their book, The Art of Tinkering: "When you tinker, you're not following a step-by-step set of directions that leads to a tidy end result. Instead, you're questioning your assumptions about the way something works, and you're investigating it on your own terms."

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