Break it Up! Five Awesome Brain Breaks for Remote Learning Sanity

A new school year is upon us and boy will it be a different one! While remote learning has a number of positives, especially keeping our families safe, it can also be a challenge. 

For example, remote learning can be a very sedentary act causing drowsiness, stiffness, and fatigue. In addition, sometimes our brains just need a nice little break, too! Here are some fun and fabulous ideas to get movement into you and your children’s days and have a brain recess while you are at it. 

Hit the Mat

There is nothing better for your body and your mind than yoga!  There are a number of great yoga practices out there and YouTube (try Yoga For Kids with Alissa Kepas) is the perfect platform to find one that is right for you and your child. If you haven’t don’t it before, you really must give it a go. It helps to still your mind so that you and your child can focus on the things you need to focus on later, it reduces stress toxins in the body, and it provides your muscles and organs with the circulation they need especially after all the blood has settled into your um, booty…

Go on a Scavenger Hunt

Every day go on a short theme-centered scavenger hunt. Nature is your free, almost always available, stress-free zone. Use it! 10-15 minutes of adventure could go a long way to relieving remote-learning stress and give your kids the energy to  focus.  You could even add a challenge or competitive element to take it from a simple “walk” to a game.  Here are some ideas:

  • Find five green things (red things, blue things, etc)things
  • Find five different living creatures (Kids, you or your pets don’t count!)
  • Find five items of trash and dispose of them (wear gloves)
  • Find five blue objects
  • Identify five different kinds of leaves. Research what kind they are!
  • First to find five squirrels (or whatever wildlife you have around)! 
  • First to spot 5 natural cracks in the sidewalk
  • First to spot a four- leaf clover

Click, Take a Pic

Have your kids get up and get searching for the coolest photo opportunity they can find. There are some super cool ways to get kids thinking differently about the world around them, to look for the elements of design and art, and a cool way to get creative without making a mess!  Here a few photo activities to try.

  • Silly Selfies – Take five pictures of yourself with the silliest expressions you can come up with.
  • Happy and Serious – Take two photos of yourself – one happy and one serious – put them side-by-side in an app like PicJoiner.
  • Capture a photo of yourself jumping in the air!
  • Find an object and magnify it so that it makes a cool composition. Have your family members guess what it is!
  • Turn basic into beautiful. Find a cool way to photograph one of the most simple and commonly-used objects in your home.
  • Take a slow motion and a time lapse video of each of you performing a funny task or exercise. Check out NEOK12 for some really cool time lapse videos online. 
  • Recreate a favorite movie scene or scene from a storybook you all love (great for a short break, and gives you awesome fuel for social media!)

Get Dancing

There are very few exercises and activities more fun than dancing. Adding a dancing break every day is a must! Take turns choosing the songs and get up and move. Your kids will love seeing you dance to their favorite hip hop song, and it will be pretty fun watching them dance to some New Kids on the Block (sorry for the broad assumption that you like NKB). While you are at it, create a video of you and your family doing those dances for viewing pleasure or blackmail if need be! Maybe even put some TikToks on the big screen and do your family’s rendition.

Go Old School

Go old school with these breaks from learning and still use your brain with these fun old games:

  • Play Simon Says! This is so fun!  Pinterest has some Simon Says commands if you can’t think of your own, e.g., “Simon says, wave your arms in the air, wave them like you just don’t care.” So get moving… I mean, “Simon says, get moving.”
  • Green Light/Red Light – Best game ever, right?! When you have five minutes, go outside and give it a go across your yard. 
  • Freeze tag and Sharks/Minnows are fun games as well when you and your kids need a mental recess. 

Remote learning will be all-new for most of us this Fall and it may seem like a bridge-too-far to look for the silver linings. That said, if you make it a point to plan for a few 10-15 minute breaks throughout the week, you’ll not only reconnect to your family, you’ll also have some great pictures and memories that will last a lifetime.

Print-&-Play Board Game: Paths and Predicaments!

Guest post by the fabulous Jill Katzenberger

Are you looking for more ways to keep your family edu-tained through quarantine?

Well, look no further. I​t is with great excitement and minor trepidation that we announce the laborious fruits of our playtime, ​Paths and Predicaments in the Kingdom of Quandary​. This collaborative game is brought to you by Ryan Madson, Leo Borasio, and me (Jill Katzenberger). We are the Boulder-based non-profit, Junkyard Social Club​, and ​Paths and Predicaments​ is just what you need to get your family across the social distance. Puzzle your way through the paths that lie before you. Express your creativity, challenge your resourcefulness, and reinvent your experience each time you play.

While I may not self-identify as a hardcore “gamer”, I have always had a geeky love for games and puzzles. This love, and our penchant for strategic and creative thinking, drove the Junkyard team head first into the world of original board game design. Our goal: to orchestrate playful opportunities that encourage families to foster strong bonds through collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

The first step to develop our original Junkyard gaming experience was to play-test as many games as we could get our meeple-loving hands-on…at work and at home…with family and friends. While on this mission, and in the name of research, I also took it upon myself to spread my love of games to my 6-year-old son. He was mentally ready and I was emotionally ready. My husband and I used to play games regularly, but when we expanded from DINKs with a dog to the complete nuclear family, games were superseded by stacking rings and cups. As legos began replacing baby toys, we got a glimpse of leisure time that once again resembled (almost) mutual play. It was like a dim light at the end of a BPA free tunnel, one that could lead us back to game night.

Fostering my son’s love of games took some time – some carefully carved out and curated time with a commitment to keeping his toddler sister from going all Godzilla on the gameboard. Initially, the nostalgic side of me wanted to introduce him to the games of my childhood like Candyland, Chutes and ladders, and Life.

I learned something. As an adult, these games are mind-numbingly lame​. I don’t think Milton Bradley ever played with obsessive kids (over and over and over again).

These games require zero strategy. There’s little incentive to “try.” In fact, there’s really no logical way to. They’re all chance, no thought, and if you really want to win, you figure out how to cheat. The game pieces are cheap choking hazards and at best they prepare your kid to understand the concept of a lottery ticket.

Luckily, there is a world of family-friendly games beyond the big-box store toy aisle. We fell in love with collaborative games that encourage you to work together, to celebrate your successes and commiserate in your losses. We were also drawn to games with creative narratives that immerse you in a story where YOU are the main character. Even better… were games with clever mechanisms that level the playing field so that while you might have decades of gaming wisdom, compared to your kid, the tables can suddenly turn and force you to rethink your next move.

Each of these concepts informed the development of Paths and Predicaments​. We found ourselves repeatedly inspired and reminded of the beauty and ingenuity of well-designed rules (and instructions). We also learned that while quality games for families DO exist, there’s definitely room for more experiences that bring groups together by engaging the mind AND the body. Paths and Predicaments is a​ ​fast-paced, collaborative game that will challenge you to apply ​MacGyver-​ like resourcefulness and Unicorn-level creativity in order to survive a wicked wonderland. Each time you play, the game can be different: a new board, new challenges, new resources, and even a new playing field.

Purchase the files to print your own copy of the ​game​ today. Let us know about your experiences: what worked, what didn’t, what we spelled wrong.

Pay what you can. Your contributions go directly towards the execution of the Junkyard Social Club, an adventure playground and cafe coming to Boulder as soon as the fabric of society can be woven once again.

Visit the JunkShop

 

Easy tips for “School at Home”

This past month has really been fraught with a number of changes. One of those changes is that your home now likely doubles as a school! All of the many (and crazy) changes have been difficult for kids and parents, alike. Here are some homeschool tips to help make you and your kid’s home/school life a little easier!

Turning life into learning

You can use the care and management of your household to teach a lot of lessons. Have kids help you cook! They can measure ingredients, and you can ask them to double and triple it in their heads. Have them determine the (rough) square footage of a room while they vacuum by counting feet. Have them help determine what snacks to order at your online grocery store with a $30 budget. Have younger kids match socks!

Individualize

It’s really difficult to individualize learning styles for 30 kids in a classroom, but one of the best parts of homeschooling is your children can learn how they learn best. Some students need quiet; some students need music. Kids sometimes work best independently while others may need lots of support. If you have a busy work schedule, enlist the help of your older children to assist younger siblings who might need additional help. Some very social kids may do better if they can work on some assignments with friends in a video chat session and others might want to do their work locked up alone in a room. If possible, accept their learning styles and foster them.  Many kids perform better when they can start later in the morning while others might be more productive in the afternoon. 

Cut the choices to two

There are a gazillion online resources (games, books, videos) out there for your kids to get all kinds of educational experiences. Focus on a few that will help your child maintain their literacy and math levels and review all old concepts. Also, this is a wonderful opportunity to turn kids’ education into one that is interest-based. If they have always wanted to teach themselves guitar, then let them go for it. If they have always wanted to learn to knit, order that ball of yarn and needles. They want to learn and build circuits, by all means cut them loose. Or check out our Play @ Home page, a curated list of STEAM learning at home. 

Assignments from schools

Many schools are providing educational materials and assignments for kids to review what they have learned this year. These can be great, but some can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Determine a healthy and stress-free amount for your kids and let that be your guide. Your children, whether they can express it or not are feeling a lot of the same stress as you are—something is off—something isn’t right with the world. This can cause a lot of anxiety. Then throw on a ton of schoolwork without the added support and instruction, along with parents who may still be working and stressed to boot, and you have a recipe for disaster. Give yourself and your kids grace and be okay with saying, my child has learned enough today.

Routine can be good

Just like it is for adults, a routine can be good, but again, as mentioned, be willing to adapt a bit and go with the flow. Having kids get up, eat, work on school, and have play time as a routine can be really effective for a lot of adults and kids. It may not be a positive for others. Know your kids, have reasonable expectations, a baseline routine, and then add in some wiggle room for the late bedtime to have a family movie night or a group chat with their friends.

This is a most-unusual time with a lot of uncontrollable variables. Do the best you can, give yourself and your kids some grace, and most importantly, spend time with each other. You will never get this extensive time with each other back, so enjoy. 

5 Fun-Filled Winter Activities to Foster Learning and Engagement


Guest Post by Harper Reid

 

Winter can sometimes feel dreary, but there’s plenty of fun to be had! The cold climate is an excellent opportunity for kids to explore more fun and exciting STEAM projects. These activities are available no matter the season, and kids are free to enjoy doing them wherever they are. With the emphasis on play, and having as much fun as possible, kids can make the most out of them as a learning experience. With that said, here are five fun-filled activities for your kids to enjoy!

 

1. Supercooling Liquids – Science

It’s common to show water boiling into steam to demonstrate states of matter because the slow process of water freezing into ice is rather boring. What if it wasn’t? Try Supercooling your water, or any other liquids you want to experiment with.

  • Place an unopened bottle of water or whatever liquid you have in the freezer (purified water works best).
  • Leave it undisturbed for around two and a half hours (the time may vary depending on your freezer). Check to see if it is still liquid. If it’s frozen, you will have to repeat this process and lower the duration.
  • Gently remove it from the freezer, take care not disturb it too much as you remove the lid.
  • Give it a quick shake, or pour it onto a piece of ice. Watch instant crystallisation before your eyes!

2. Arduino Programming – Technology

Kids have the best opportunity when it comes to learning to code. Small, cheap and portable work stations like Arduinos provide the chance to practice and explore all manners of projects.

  • Order an Arduino electronic platform. Most are available online or with electronic retailers.
  • Organise a fun, exciting and productive coding project. There are many resources online to help find inspiration.
playingwithbricks.png

Image Source: Unsplash

3. Building with Lego – Engineering

Lego is a fantastic way to engage kids in creative projects that can challenge their skills in planning and problem-solving. There are countless amounts of pre-fab kits to build, but buying the general-purpose lego bricks is ideal for making whatever you want.

  • Set a challenge to build a certain structure, such as a tower or bridge.
  • Draw a plan, write what bricks are involved in building it and why.
  • Work in groups or solo to build it, and test its integrity so that new things can be learned about the process of building.

4. Mosaic Pictures – Art

For many kids, drawing is the common alternative when left inside or without a chance to play outside. Mosaics are a great way to exercise the creative freedom of making pictures, but with the added inspiration found in all the coloured tile pieces available.

  • Brainstorm ideas for a cool Mosaic picture.
  • Take the time to collect all the weird and wonderful tile pieces needed to make the right picture.
  • Have fun!

5. Fibonacci Craft – Mathematics

The amazing world of math is not always appreciated in its normal form. It takes a creative visual project to demonstrate just how our world is based on the rules of mathematics. Art and craft projects based on the Fibonacci sequence make great representations.

  • Grab a good compass, a pencil and all the craft material you may think you’ll need to make amazing Fibonacci art
  • There are plenty of online resources and tutorials to show you what is possible to make.
  • Match up your art with the sequence of numbers, showing the progression of the sequence.

 

All of these activities are great for winter and any other season where you have the time. Go out there, learn and have fun!

 

 

Author bio:

Harper grew up on books and board games, from the silly and fun to the clever and challenging! When not busy writing and meeting deadlines, she and her friends love to play Scrabble or Scattergories. Get to know more about Harper through her written pieces on Harper Reid. 

Creative projects to keep busy while “sheltering in place”

There is no mistaking that we are in a very unusual and some might even say scary time, but we have to remember to look for silver linings and to control what we can control and rest in the knowledge that we have done just that. One of the silver linings of the “shelter-in-place” directives is there may be more time in the day for your kids and for your family to incorporate things into your new norm that provide fulfillment. 

Creative activities are often one of the first things we as adults let go of when our lives get busy, and it is one of the best things we can do for critical thinking, focus, incubating ideas and solutions, and improvement of mental health. And as for our kids, we know they love being creative and have the most amazing imaginations. Here are a couple challenges for you and your children to do together or separately. They can modified very easily for different aged children by throwing in some math and other challenges for the older kiddos and simplifying it for the younger.

Landscaping Challenge

A lot of kids don’t know anything about landscaping and the process that goes into designing a great outdoor space. There are a number of challenges that going into landscape design.  Encourage your child to create a landscape design for your home. If your home’s landscaping is already in tip-top shape, have them design their own terrarium or succulent garden, or have them create their dream backyard with a swimming pool and a skate park.

This is video you can watch with your kiddos – it is a peek at what a landscape designer does during a typical day! This video created by Lowes, gives the basics on what to consider when you are creating a great outdoor space. Google images will give you hundreds of landscaping plans to give your budding designers a place to start drawing and planning.

Sculpture Challenge

Recycling is not only good for the planet, but it can also be a great medium for creating beautiful and fun pieces of art. Kids can make tree sculptures using old palettes; bottle cap lid mosaics can be extremely interesting and fun to create. Even paper towel and toilet paper rolls can be used to make visually appealing abstract artforms.  Whatever you are collecting in your bin is sure to spark the imagination of your youngsters, and if the materials don’t get their creative juices flowing there is always pinterest.

Our kids are rarely encouraged or allowed to play with their food, but sometimes, it is MANDATORY! Make this edible sculpting clay and your kids will have a ton of fun playing with and eating their food!  After washing their hands (for a long, long time), they can take a can of white frosting and a bag of powdered sugar and make a sugary medium for art creation. All they have to do is gradually add and mix the powdered sugar into the frosting until it is too difficult to stir. Shazam, you and your kids have an edible and moldable medium! They can create some minimalist sculptures or add some food coloring and create all sorts of colorful and delicious art forms.

Museum Challenge

Everyone loves field trips, and we love them even more when we can’t go on them!  Fortunately, there are a number of museums that allow visitors to virtually check out a number of their exhibits. How about each week your family chooses a new museum. Each person has to pick out their Top 3 pieces in the museum and share what they are and why they like them!

  1. Smithsonian Natural History Museum
  2. Science Museum
  3. Google Arts & Culture (Links to a number of museums)
  4. Eternal Egypt

Shelter in place can make many of us, kids included, feel confined and anxious. But, using this new found time together in positive productive ways can lead to new norms where families feel closer and more connected. Try a few of these missions and see if they don’t help you and yours relax and enjoy hunkering down (at least for the time being).

Summer camp selection 101 & 102

It’s that time of year again… where we try to decide what awesome, exciting adventures our kids get to go on this summer. Whether they’re hanging out at home, heading out free-range, or they’re heading to camp, our great state has endless options. But, if you’re thinking about camp, here are some thoughts to help you get started.

Be thorough 

There are so many summer camp opportunities out there that you can literally find one for everything, even underwater basket weaving (well maybe). The point is that there are: film camps, music camps, math camps, engineering camps, technology camps, art camps, adventure camps, you name it, so really think about what your child’s main interests are and do a thorough search before you make up your mind.  Choosing a camp that is engaging is obviously the priority but balancing it out with some activities and interests that they haven’t had the opportunity to engage in can be really rewarding and open new doors for your child.

Empower your child!

Obviously, you want to choose a camp that isn’t right fit for your child. Recognize though that the right fit doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be any challenges. In fact, find one that presents some challenges. Summer camp should help your child to get out of their comfort zone and experience many new things. Overcoming some challenges at summer camp, like being away from home, eating unusual foods, trying new activities will be difficult, but then, it will go from difficult to empowering!

Don’t send them to camp with their friends

Don’t pick summer camps based solely on your child’s best friends. Going with friends can be fun, but it often minimizes some of the best experiences at camp and minimizes the sense of independence they get from camp. Summer camp is a time to foster and forge new friendships and for kids to discover who they are by themselves; it makes them independent. When you send your child with their bestie, they often don’t branch out to others at camp. Camp can be an invaluable resource for helping your child to widen their circle of friends and also to develop a grander sense of the unique offerings of people who are new and different, including people of different races, cultures, and religious backgrounds. The more experiences your child gets with new people, the more compassionate they will be in accepting people who are different than them. Of course a camp with your bestie can be great too especially if your child is extremely shy.

Time

Do some soul searching and talking with your child about their thoughts about camp and the types of camps they might be interested in including, day camps, overnight camps, week(s) long camps. If your child wants to do a week long camp that requires they stay overnight away from home, assess whether or not your child has been comfortable going away with a friend, or spending the night away from their home. Summer camp probably shouldn’t be the trial run on whether your child is capable of sleeping away from home. 

Consider a camp in nature

While your child might not have the nature bug, spending time in the great outdoors can be life changing for a child. Camps give children safe spaces to play outdoors, a safe place to explore, a chance to reconnect with nature over technology. Wilderness camps or even social camps that take place in nature have inspired a number of children turned activists to get involved in protecting these precious resources.

Do your research

Once you have found a few camps that you think would be a great fit. Find out more information about the qualifications of the staff. It is great that there are energetic teens on staff, but there also needs to be qualified adults who designed the curriculum and oversee the quality of the instruction and leadership. Call and ask for references from past campers’ parents to get the scoop!

Here are some websites that will help you get started on you and your child’s summer camp exploration:

https://www.colorado-summer-camps.com

https://www.idtech.com/location-search?s=colorado&p=1

https://denver.cbslocal.com/2019/05/10/best-summer-camps-kids-colorado-overnight-outdoor/ (a good news story on last year’s camps available in Colorado)

www.kidscamps.com

Campanizer blog

Finally, when you find one you are very interested in, sign up quickly and early. A lot of camps fill up in a short amount of time, and you don’t want to do all that decision-making and then have to go back to the drawing board. Better yet, make a list of your top three, and you will be sure to get your child into one of them!

STEAM Activities to do from home

Maker Bolder just celebrated STEAMFest 2020 where we had an AMAZING time with our awesome exhibitors. Now that our home state (Colorado) and many other states have closed schools, you might be searching for fun things to do at home with a STEAM emphasis.

Behold our list of all things STEAM that can be done from home!

*Parents, please preview items for younger audiences. Some sources are from YouTube.

SCIENCE & SPACE San Diego Zoo Virtual Tour at the San Diego Zoo.
Polar Bears Polar Bears and the Tundra
NOVA Science Gross Science, Science Education at Home
Mystery Science School Closure Lesson Plans
Yellowstone National Park Virtual Field Trips:  Mud Volcano, Mammoth Hot Springs, and so much more.  Tour Yellowstone National Park!
Mars Rover Explore the surface of Mars on the Curiosity Rover.
Space Tours Experience Space
Science Videos The Kid Should See This – Science
Animal Cameras Live Cams at the San Diego Zoo

Monterey Bay Aquarium live cams

Panda Cam at Zoo Atlanta

6 Animal Cams at Houston Zoo

Georgia Aquarium has Jellyfish, Beluga Whales, and more

TECHNOLOGY Manufacturing How It’s Made
Tech How-Tos The Kid Should See This – Technology
Twenty Thousand Hertz Podcast all about the stories and history of famous sounds. (parents pre-listen for younger audiences).
Geek Girl Diaries Geek Girl Diaries
ENGINEERING  Adam Hart-Davis What Romans Did for Us, What the Ancients Did for Us
Modern Marvels Watch here
Engineer Girl Cool Links list
University of Colorado Boulder Engineering Teach Engineering STEM Curriculum for K-12
National Science Foundation Big list of Engineering Classroom Resources.
ARTS Coloring for Calm Coloring pages from 113 Museums! (Complete with all kinds of anatomy!)
Livestream Classic Concerts Met Opera to Berlin Philharmonic
Virtual Art Museums Travel to Paris, France to see amazing works of art at The Louvre.

List of 12 museums to virtually visit.

Google Arts & Culture offers exquisite views of art, cultural sites, and more.

Drawing with an Author Illustrator LUNCH DOODLE with Mo Willems
At-Home Art Lessons Cassie Stephens Art Blog
Let’s Make Art Take a look at this huge list of free digital downloads watercolor painting guides.
MAKING Animation Videos The Kid Should See This – Animation
Built By Kids Blog with lots of ideas for building.
Mythbusters Jr. Watch full episodes here.
Competition Shows for Makers Lego Masters, no description needed.

Making It with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman.

Nailed It  and Kids Baking Championship for some baking inspiration.

MISC. Wow in the World NPR produced podcast covering all of the wonders of the world around us.
Open Culture FREE educational resources for K-12 students
Scholastic Remote Learning Resources by grade level.
Children’s Museum Stroll Walk through the Boston Children’s Museum thanks to Google Maps, explore all 3 floors!
The Great Wall of China This Virtual Tour of the Great Wall of China is beautiful and makes history come to life.
Schoolhouse Rock Watch classic episodes here.
Brain Pop Access Request access to BrainPop for free.
Typing Practice Sharpen those typing skills.
STEM Resources 239 Cool Sites about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

 

>> Send us more to update this list at gabi at makerbolder dot com

 

**Some of this list was sourced from Mrs. Fahrney’s list that can be found here.

Breaking up the Boredom in 2020

Spring fever is definitely a legitimate affliction.. and now that we’re social distancing… or maybe straight up quarantined, spring fever could be in high gear at your house. I know it is at ours, and our schools are closed for two and a half more weeks. Fortunately, there are cures. The first course of action is getting outside every possible second that you and your kids can. When the week starts, I check the weather forecasts to determine the days that we can get outside. Secondly, I plan, plan for when can’t and plan for when we can!

Hunting

Scavenger hunts are always a lot of fun! Check out all these lists on Pinterest. We also made a Scavenger Hunt list for you earlier this year. The lists include hunts around town, at the park, and even around your home. They will keep kids entertained and busy! The best part is that regardless of whether the weather is a lion or a lamb, you have a fun way to spend time together.

Battle Time

Nerf wars are the best (at least they are for my family). The mega guns and bullets are ideal because they are easy to load, and the bullets don’t do damage to anyone or anything indoors and outdoors. Also, you can play it rain or shine depending on the weather. Our favorite game is called “Three” (very creative). We give each other three lives. When you lose all three lives you are out of the game and have to wait for the start of the next. When we couldn’t run through the house or get outdoors, we would set up action figures 10 feet away and have target practice. We’d have Nerf Olympics and see who could hit the most targets in the shortest amount of time. You could even do it outdoors and have a course where you run and jump and then have to stop, crouch and hit your targets.

Speaking of a “course,” if you can get outside, build a fun ninja warrior course! They are all the rage and springing up in almost every city. Longmont has Warrior Playground, Lafayette has Ninja Nation, and right here in Boulder, we have Superhuman Academy. These are great ways to get out the pent up energy when rain is in the forecast. But, when you and the kids can get outside, it’s a wonderful family project to build your own course in your own backyard. You can use things that most homes already have like 2’ by 4’s, those soccer cones you have from when you coached, hula hoops, ropes and even your swing set. Or you and your kids can get on your engineering hats and come up with a course that may take some time build, but that will keep you all busy and having fun for years to come! Here are a few sites to help you get started: Ninja Warrior Blueprints, Remodelaholic, and News.com

Game Time

Hide-n-seek is probably a no brainer, but it is so fun that it has to be mentioned. There are some fun variations for when you have to be indoors. Try playing in the dark with flashlights down in the basement. Get together all the squirt guns and play hide-n-go seek outside when the weather permits.

Geocaching

If you remember, we talked about geocaching earlier this year. What a fun family activity to do when you have the opportunity to get outside! Drive to a local park or recreation area where there are a number of caches and let your kids loose to treasure hunt. Before you go out, consider making some treasures to exchange or add to the boxes: a friendship bracelet, a piece of art, a homemade key chain or have them gather up all those little toys that you accidentally step on or that get stuck in the vacuum. 

Snack Time

When your kiddos are trapped inside, get your kids involved in planning and prepping snacks and meals. Have them help you with the grocery list and take them shopping. Make each of them responsible for finding 10 items on the list and see who can get done first (no running)! Teach them proper food preparation. For those competitors in your family, you can also have a snack-making Top Chef contest. Each member of the family can give points for favorite snacks. Total up the scores after a week or two. 

The good news about Spring Fever is, at worst it will last for a couple more months. At best, we may be able to get outdoors most every day of the week. Should the prior be our reality, add a few of these ideas to your rotation of medicines to cure your family’s ailments, then do a Spring Fever dance, and hopefully soon we will be fully recovered. 

Meet a Maker: Sorin with Mile High Astronomy

Meet our friend Sorin! Sorin is the brains and eyes behind Mile High Astronomy. We’ve partnered on some REALLY awesome events together and hope you’ve been lucky enough to join us. BUT, if you haven’t – come see Mile High Astronomy at STEAMFest 2020 and check out the latest Smartphone enabled telescopes, and build your own constellation projectors.

What do you do with your awesome self?

I share the wonders and beauty of the universe with others!

How did you get started? Who or what influenced you?

When I was a kid, my parents bought me a small red telescope for my birthday one year. That was my first introduction to astronomy, being able to see the Moon up close. Many years later, a trip to Mauna Kea, Hawaii, home to some of the world’s largest professional observatories, reignited that passion. Since then, I have been involved with astronomy outreach and non profits for the last 9 years. In 2017, I turned my passion for sharing the universe with others into a business, Mile High Astronomy!

What was one bit of information you wished you know before you started?

Probably that a good telescope costs a lot less than you think. I wish I’d started sooner!

Where do you see yourself and your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?

I see developing our own line of astronomical products! Astronomy is one of those fields where people are constantly inventing and innovating. We are just now starting to see telescopes that integrate with smart phones to make discovering the night sky easier than ever. The future of astronomy is a hotbed for experimenting and innovating.

What do you wish you could make or do, but don’t know how to (yet)?

We don’t know manufacturing yet, but we plan to learn! STEAM and the maker movement have opened up so many doors to building new products, and made it much more affordable to try out new ideas. I’m looking forward to making our own contributions to the astronomy equipment space in the years to come.

What’s your favorite part about the STEAM movement?

The great thing about STEAM is the emphasis on learning by doing, being willing to experiment, and to take a special delight in failing! One of the biggest aspects of learning is understanding that it’s not just OK to fail, it’s awesome! We learn so much more when something doesn’t work how we expected it to, and we take those lessons and build on them. STEAM is about not being afraid to try something new!

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

The hands on experiences!

What will you be demo’ing hacking, playing with at your STEAM Fest booth?

We will be showing off some of the latest Smartphone enabled telescopes, and have a station for attendees to build their own constellation projectors!

What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing anyone has ever told you about what you do?

It’s the WOW moments when someone sees the Moon, the Rings of Saturn, or the bands on Jupiter through a telescope for the first time!

What’s your advice to young peeps interested in learning more about STEAM?

To borrow a slogan, Just do it! There are so many resources available, and so many people who will be happy to help and encourage you. Never be afraid to fail when you try something new. Every great artist, engineer, and scientist who we celebrate for their amazing successes achieved those successes by experimenting and learning from thousands of failures that eventually lead them to something new and amazing.

Looking forward to Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2020! Get your tickets >> [maxbutton id=”5″ ]

Meet a Maker: Micah with BOAT

Micah! Micah! Micah! Let’s all do a cheer for Micah with the “BOAT” (Bus for Outdoor Access & Teaching). Micah believes that the outdoors is a vehicle for helping people figure out how to make a better world together… and we agree. Come meet Micah and take a walk through the BOAT at STEAMFest – show what you know about maps, build a lego campsite based on Leave No Trace principles, play with Mr. Bones, take a family survival challenge, practice pooping in the woods (no real poop, promise), and get any and all questions about the G-R-E-A-T outdoors answered.

What do you do with your awesome self?

I run BOAT! It’s not actually a BOAT, it’s the “Bus for Outdoor Access & Teaching.” We’ve converted a big, red, full-size school bus into a fully functional wilderness program. We drive across Colorado running expeditions for kids and adults, providing outdoor education where people actually live, and helping organizations get to hard-to-reach outdoor places.

How did you get started? Who or what influenced you?

I wish there was a “lightbulb moment,” but really it was just a lot of work. My team started asking educators what made it hard to get outside, we analyzed budgets, we did a lot of just-good-enough paper napkin math, and a fair amount of logistical analysis (i.e. looking where things went and where to pull of a trip). We learned a few things – transportation is a huge barrier, people want access to outdoor spaces where they actually live (cities!), and a bus has enough cubic feet of storage to carry enough camping equipment for everyone inside – with some modifications.

What was one bit of information you wished you know before you started?

The structural and electrical architecture of a bus, for starters! Welding, metalwork, the impacts of vibrations on nuts and bolts – that kind of stuff. We knew we could run an outdoor program, and we knew we could drive a bus, but putting them together has had some challenges!

Where do you see yourself and your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?

The idea behind the bus is that it’s a more affordable, more accessible way for organizations to get outside. A lot of outdoor programs run on a traditional model where families or individuals have to get to their base of operations, have the gear, and so on. We’ve tactically removed a lot of barriers – both logistical and economic – and that means our programs are a fraction of the cost of a traditional outdoor program. So what does the future look like? Hopefully more busses, more people getting outside, and making it a lot easier along the way. Last year we got 400 people out on trips and reached over 7,000 through education programs – we’d like to see those numbers get a lot bigger.

What do you wish you could make or do, but don’t know how to (yet)?

My kingdom for another bus! I don’t think we’ll ever make the perfect one, but we learned a lot the first time around – I don’t know how to make every piece of it, but I’ve got a lot of ideas (as soon as I get this welding thing down).

What’s your favorite part about the STEAM movement?

I’m going to go a bit off message here, but I think it’s the element of creativity and critical thinking – I love the outdoors, but getting people outside at BOAT isn’t the real end goal. Like BOAT itself, the outdoors is a vehicle for helping people figure out how to make a better world together. You learn a lot about what it means to take care of each other on a camping trip – the creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, and care for others that comes from our programs is the real goal, and something much needed in society both today and always.

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

All the people! Sure, we’re showing off the bus and teaching but really the best part for us is getting to meet all the folks coming by, seeing their ideas, sharing tips, tricks, and hikes, and letting the younger ones sit in the driver’s seat. It’s such a great community in attendance!

What will you be demo’ing hacking, playing with at your STEAM Fest booth?

We’re revamping our event set up, so you’ll have to see – you can count on a chance to show what you know about maps, build a lego campsite based on Leave No Trace principles, play with Mr. Bone’s, take a family survival challenge, practice pooping in the woods (no real poop, promise), and get any and all questions about the outdoors answered (or at least we’ll try!). We’ll also be showing you the insides of some popular outdoor clothing, so you can learn how they work!

What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing anyone has ever told you about what you do?

Honestly, people tend to think that what we do is pretty crazy. I’ve studied wolves and been chased by a bear and struck by lightning. But what I remind people is all those “crazy” things actually means we made a big mistake – the goal of getting outside is to do so safely enough you can come back and do it again later, so it’s the times we have fun but things don’t get toooo crazy that are the best.

What’s your advice to young peeps interested in learning more about STEAM?

When you’re young, the way consequences work out can be a pretty sweet deal. The consequences of taking time to learn, grow, try something new, or break a rule no one knew they needed to have are huge – I still regularly rely on skills, science, and knowledge I picked up before I graduated high school, every day. At the same time, the consequences of bad choices and mistakes are – relatively speaking – pretty small. You can take big risks, and the odds are in your favor. The older you get, the more that seems to invert, so take advantage! Plus remember that while older folks may have more experience than you, they aren’t necessarily smarter. It’s always worth listening to older folks in your life – but you can go your own way and it still might end up better.

Looking forward to Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2020! Get your tickets >> [maxbutton id=”5″ ]