KAST (Kootenay Association for Science and Technology) has relaunched the Kootenay Contraption Contest for 2020, presented in partnership with FortisBC. The contest invites students in Kindergarten to Grade 8 to imagine, design and illustrate a “contraption” that solves a problem.
We have come to that special time of year referred to as the November Doldrums: the weather has turned gloomy, Daylight Savings has kicked in and it’s dark by supper time, the colour of vibrant of autumn has blown from the trees, and we’re still a ways off from the merriment of Christmas… or, perhaps worse, anticipating the rash of spending the Season inevitably brings!
Well, turn that late fall frown upside down, people, as we’ve come across a wonderful way to beat the November blues: making makers! There’s no better time of year to inspire the maker in just about anyone than during this autumn dead zone.
Here are some great ideas to help take a bit of blah out of the dreariness of after school:
Building with Cardboard
There’s really nothing that invites the imagination of a child like a simple cardboard box. Go with it! Cars, costumes, houses, you name it, cardboard can become it. Perfect for inspiring your little makers!
Stop Motion Video
Super easy and, thanks to modern technology, you don’t need much more than a smartphone or device with a camera and the appropriate mobile app – there are plenty of filmmaking apps out there as a simple Google search will attest. You may want to get your hands on a tripod, too, to make this fun project just that much easier. If you can’t get a tripod, simply setup some support for the device that will allow for hand-free.
Break out the toys: blocks, legos and lego characters, action figures, Barbies. Let your imagination go wild!
Here’s an example that is probably a little ambitious – aspirational, shall we say!
Electronics! Projects we advocate for as often as we can involve supplying power to make things work.
How about an easy-peasy DIY flashlight to dip your child’s toe into the world of electronic gadgetry? With simple AA batteries, a piece of aluminum foil, some duct tape, a mini light bulb, and a paper roll to house everything, this project couldn’t be easier! You can find the complete instruction HERE!
Take something apart!
Making doesn’t always have to be about putting something together – no way! It can also be about the exploration and investigation involved in taking something apart. Super fun with a ton of learning moments, particularly if the end-game is to put it back together – also strongly encouraged!
Here are some ideas of things that can be disassembled:
- A broken motorized or battery-operated toy. It’s a fun and educational exercise to see if, once the motor has been removed, if it can be reassembled and made to work!
- An old smartphone – so interesting to see what’s behind the magic!
- An old landline – explore the roots of our modern devices.
- An old computer hard drive. For older kids, a great way to see what components are involved and maybe even what can be done to bring it back to life!
We assume such technical proficiency in our kids. The reality is, they are actually masters at consuming technology, not necessarily what goes on to make it happen. More of us have to encourage our kids, who spend an awful lot of time on computer to use that time a little differently – make something!
Kids of all ages can get to learn the programming that goes into the computer games and activities they enjoy.
Scratch, a free programming language and online community where kids (or any programming beginners) can create interactive stories, games, and animations, is a fantastic introduction into the world of code and computer programming.