Kids want to be inventors when they grow up, but why wait til then? MakerKids is making that happen for kids in and around Toronto as they spark creativity and teach the technical skills to manifest their ideas. A non-profit workshop space in Roncesvalles, Makerkids is one of the only makerspaces in the world where kids can learn about and get their hands dirty with woodworking, robotics, 3D printing, and electronics.
I happily stumbled upon MakerKids when searching for summer camps for my nephew, Legend. He's the coolest kid I know, bursting with energy and creativity and technological know-how that never fails to impress me. I find myself scratching my head as he shows me the latest features on YouTube, his photoediting skills, or his recordings of his Minecraft sessions. He lives in a world that makes me - a twenty something Millenial that lives and breathes the online social space - feel old and outdated.
Being the nerd/tiger-aunt person that I am, I wanted to find a camp that would appeal to his strengths and interests, challenge him in a productive way, and make it fun all at the same time. Luckily, I found MakerKids' Inventors camp where they would spend the week thinking up an idea for an invention and building it all from scratch. Everyday I would pick him up from camp and he would teach me something new about Arduino, woodworking, and robotics. By the end of the week, he had built his very own life-size wolf complete with audio howling! And we're continuing the project at home before the summer ends, painting the wolf and adding little details to it to make it even more realistic.
MakerKids is such an awesome initiative that gives kids the opportunity to make what they find in their imagination a physical reality. It fills a serious void currently found in our education system; that is, a hands-on and creative experience that mixes learning and play. The kids go beyond what they would learn exclusively in textbooks, and actually explore science, technology, and engineering in a way that engages their imagination, hands, and brains. They think, design, experiment, and create...all while having fun! Who knew!
So for all the mommies and daddies in the GTA, check out MakerKids at www.makerkids.ca.
Old for new, this for that, goods for cash. Exchanging goods, services, skills, land—even people—has pushed the world toward its current state. And, for better or for worse, it underpins our modern world. The latest issue of Makeshift Magazine explores the intricate labyrinth of trade around the world. But we're not talking about Wall Street here. We're talking about inventive exchanges and backroom deals. This latest issue features everything from analog wire transfers in the Middle East, organ swapping in China, and bustling exchange in the Nakivale refugee camp.
I had the opportunity to sit down with the community organizers behind the Trade School Toronto (TSTO) and write about this growing global network of learning spaces that run exclusively on barter. Anyone can teach a class and students attend with barter items that the teacher requests. Two-hour classes run the gamut from urban forestry to learning the 8-count lindy hop. And you can learn it all for the price of a vegan meal, a song, a baking sheet, or even just the simple promise to try swing dancing again. TSTO and its equivalents around the world is a manifestation of the move away from traditional educational systems to alternative, more accessible learning models.
Get an insider's look at offbeat, dirty, ingenious, and original tales of trade from street levels around the world by grabbing your copy of Makeshift Magazine here.
I've just recently wrapped up a course with the Institute of Technology and Social Change (TechChange). If you know me or read this blog, it's pretty obvious that I'm deeply involved in the tech space. But recently I've also taken a keen interest in social entrepreneurship, a field that's been increasing in popularity over the past few decades. More recently, there has been a real movement of social entrepreneurs developing technological solutions to complex social problems. Naturally, I had to learn more. I storified what I've learned over the past few weeks along with some of my favorite readings and videos from the course. Enjoy!
My mom loves telling the story of when I first learned to read. It’s a simple one, but she loves it nonetheless. When I was a child, she would read to me every night before going to sleep. One night when I was about four or five she was too tired and, jokingly, she asked me to read to her instead. Much to her surprise, I actually did. She always tells the story with such joy and pride, explaining that she didn’t expect me to know how to read already.
I’m guessing my love of reading started with those bedtime stories and for years I’ve kept the books I read as a child. I never wanted to give them away, initially for purely sentimental reasons but after awhile, I figured it would be best to give them somewhere where they could truly be appreciated….to someone who would take the time to read to children like my mom and dad always did for me.
And so my sister-in-law and I prepared a box full of my books and other educational toys that we could donate to an organization promoting education and literacy for the children of the Philippines. We had been talking about doing something like this for awhile but only now with my trip back home were we actually able to put our plans into action.
Museo Pambata (which translates to the Museum for Children) is one such organization that does exactly what we were looking for. As the name indicates, it is a museum…but it is unlike all others in that it’s completely interactive and hands-on, promoting an alternative way of learning for children, especially for those who have no access to formal education. What interested me the most though was their literacy program. In addition to their in house library that’s open to all children, the museum also has a mobile library that travels around the impoverished areas of metro Manila reading to the children of those villages. That’s where I really wanted my books to go.
Just before leaving the Philippines, I made the trip over to Museo Pambata where I was greeted by Kikay and Pamela, two street children who were there volunteering at the library to read to other children visiting the museum. And in an instant, I knew my much beloved books had found a home…
Watch the video below for a tour of Manila’s Museo Pambata.