WELCOME BACK MAKERKIDS and PARENTS
This is our first post for the new school year. We're posting the
letter we emailed to all the parents of kids who were in last year's program. We very pleased that so many of you are coming back!
For those of you returning, we're very exciited you're continuing with making. We have some very cool plans we can't wait to share with you!
Both MakerKids (and Parents) should start checking with this website every week.
We're doing something new with the website this year. We're going to use berkshiremakerkids.org to talk about our weekly projects and to suggest things you can do at home between sessions if you're interested. We've reorganized the website and think it will be a lot more useful. You should check out the following topics weekly.
1. MakerKids Project Info
This is primarily for the kids to see what is coming up next.
Kind of like a preview of projects to come.
2. MakerKids Blog
We think you parents will like this page to learn what your
child is doing and to see pictures of the activity.
3 . MakerKids Links
There is so much of interest relating to making and to the
concepts that underly everything we do, that we are using
the Links page to lead you to cool videos, images and
information about making and STEM subject. It will a fun
place to explore and we'll be adding to it regularly.
We looking forward to seeing you all in the weeks to come,
Paul, Tim and the rest of the Maker Mentors
Below is the letter we sent out to all the families that participated in the program last year, inviting them back, explaining the changes we will be making in the schedule and why
With school starting, this seems like to perfect time to talk to you about our plans for the MakerKids program this school year.
We felt extremely positive about the MakerKids program this past school year as it introduced exciting hands on learning opportunities to the participating kids. We’re gratified that they seemed to really enjoy it. We hope you were getting positive feedback at home too! At our last sessions in May, we asked each of the three groups if they wanted to continue in the fall. Informally, there was a lot of interest. It appeared nearly everyone raised their hand. We have our fingers crossed that this enthusiasm for making remains strong after a summer away from school. We look forward the continuing on the same path this fall and, if anything, extend the challenge and the fun. This letter is our invitation to your child to continue with the MakerKids program this school year. MakerKid sessions will tentatively begin the week of October 6.
I think it’s fair to say that along the the kids, we mentors learned a lot too. While the objectives of the program going forward remain unchanged, our experience running the program taught us a few things and revealed ways we think could be incorporated to improve the experience for the kids and deepen the learning. In short, we think we can do better.
The main issue, the main limitation, turned out to be time. This past school year, we had one two-hour session per week with your child. Between picking the kids up at the elementary school at 3:00 pm, escorting them over to the makerspace and returning to the main building for pickup by you at 5:00 pm, precious little time was left for the making itself – not to mention important related aspects surrounding the actual building process. For example, reflecting on the experience, reviewing the underlying concepts, journalizing, discussing what one might do differently if the opportunity existed to make a revised version of the project and so on. Taking nothing away from what was accomplished by the kids and their obvious enjoyment, the program would be richer and the learning more significant if each project did not need to be compressed into such a short amount of time.
The projects we did last year were intentionally fairly simple. Now, with the kids having some making experience under their belts and being a year older. we plan to present more challenging projects to them this year. We would like to be able to engage them for more time each week than was possible in a single two-hour weekly session. Over the summer we met with the administration several times and discussed options on how this might be accomplished. Really, there is only on workable solution: change from one-session-per-week to two-sessions-per-week.
We know your kids have very busy schedules and may have other after school commitments. Still, we feel we need to expand the time commitment for the MakerKids program to two day per week from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm will make for a far richer experience. We hope you and your child is likes the idea of two sessions a week and can fit it in with other activities.
We will be offering the program Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. We’re aiming for about 12 kids in each two-day session. At this point we have not decided if there will be a Tuesday-Wednesday group and a Thursday-Friday group, or if the groups will meet Tuesday-Thursday and Wednesday-Friday. We will try to work out these logistics with your input on your child’s schedule. Most importantly at this point, we need to hear from you. Is your child interested in the two days per week program and if so what days are possible given the options outlined in the paragraph above?
If you want to sign up your child up for the two-day MakerKids program, please select one of the options below:
Tuesdays and Wednesdays sessions - 3pm to 5pm
Thursdays and Fridays sessions - 3pm to 5pm
Tuesdays and Thursdays sessions - 3pm to 5pm
Wednesdays and Fridays sessions - 3pm to 5pm
My child could attend any two days. (This option is the best for us as it will allow us more flexibility to organize equal sized groups.
Respond with your answer by email indicating the option preferred. Once we have know everyone’s preferences we will set the groups for either Tuesday/Wednesday and Thursday/Friday sessions, or Tuesday/Thursday and Wednesday/Friday sessions. Please respond soon. If we do not hear from you we will have to assume your are not interested.
If your child has friends that did not participate last year, we want everyone to know we hope to organize our spring program to accommodate new makers.
Finally, one of the things we could have done better last year was communication with you as parents. We vow to do better this time around. We want to make sure you know what you child is doing at MakerKids every week. We welcome dialogue with you about how the program can be enhanced and how your child is doing. As you probably know, we have a website – berkshiremakerkids.org – that we put up last spring. It is the place to go for information about Berkshire MakerKids. Specifically, there is a blog on the site designed for the kids and parents that we see as the tool to communicate about the projects the kids are working on. This fall we will be expanding the blog so that every project will be covered. We encourage you to take a look every week to see what’s going on.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Tim Newman Berkshire MakerKids Program Managers