Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Awesome Easy Elementary Outreach

I'm sometimes asked how I have time to blog about my programming. The way I see it, though, is different:
I have to blog about my programming.

1. I'm a blogger by my very nature. From ages 11 to 23, I wrote in a physical journal every single day. They travel with me as I move because as much as I wouldn't want anyone to feel anything about stuff that happened in the past (I even hate reading them), I just can't bear to throw them out. As soon as I (unceremoniously) stopped, I started writing at a Live Journal address. Looking back, I actually talked about work on it a lot. (But don't you look, reader, because I'm sure it's embarrassing or something. I just posted the link so you believed me).

2. I'm self-reflective about my programming anyway, and it just makes sense to write it down. Without writing it down, my reflection just goes in circles in my head until it spirals. "What could I do better next time?" quickly becomes "Why was I so dumb to think that would work?"; "I need to find something more cognitively appropriate for those kids." quickly becomes "I just can't work with that age group!" I mean, it gets negative and self-defeating, even if I talk about it. There's something in the flow from brain to keyboard that lets me not worry anymore. Maybe it's the act of knowing my thoughts are saved for later. It actually might be that forgoing blogging as a time saver in the past few months added to my stress level. That would make sense.

3. Blogging, in fact, saves time. I've talked before about my belief in writing scripts and how it's worked for me (here, here, and here). Take yesterday, for example: I found myself heading out to do outreach at an elementary school, and all I did was print out pictures!

...Okay, not exactly. But it was WAY easier than it might have been otherwise.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wild Record Wednesdays: sneaky STEM

On Wednesdays in February, I held a series of programs based on Guinness Book of World Records and... well, any record I could find, really, that seemed pretty cool. I started off with some basic ones the first week (and also overtly STEM rather than sneaky STEM), which I probably wouldn't do again because I lost half my audience before I got to the good stuff!

Format: 
Each week I found about several world records, preferably with accompanying Youtube clips. I would introduce each record, talk about the record holder, and then show the clip. We would turn this into a discussion about sizes or speed to put numbers into context (math) This took about 20 minutes. During this time, we would also add a pin to a 11x17 map to show where our records were. The remaining 25 minutes were spent with the kids engaged in activities based on the records, and looking through our books from our 030 section for other records to share.

What we did each week: