Category Archives: Creative Thinking

Math Art Challenge

Math Art Challenge caught my eye the other day when I saw a tweet from its organizer, Annie Perkins (@anniek_p), about the most recent challenge, “Mandalas,” authored by Siddhi Desai (@SiddhiDesai311).  Mandala projects used to be a student favorite in my gifted and talented classroom, and we have created them from all sorts of materials, such as the traditional sand ones and 3d printed ones.  The students also loved making digital mandalas, especially using words and kaleidoscopes of nature.  When I read Desai’s post, I was blown away by a video she included about the extraordinary mandalas that pufferfish make to attract their mates, and wish I could go back in time to show it to my students.

From the tweet from Perkins, I found that she has a page of Math Art Challenges, with 81 on there to this date!  I have always been fascinated by the intersection of math and art, so this collection is a goldmine to me.  Since I usually try to give specific resources on my posts in order not to overwhelm, I decided to recommend her challenge from Day 53, “Origami Firework From One Piece of Paper.”    This seems like an appropriate challenge for this particular holiday weekend, when viewing a real fireworks show is improbable for many due to the pandemic.

While you are visiting Annie’s site, I would also like to encourage you to go to this page, “Links to Resources on Not Just White Dude Mathematicians,” and the page for  “The Mathematician Project,” both of which promote inclusivity when it comes to math – and STEM in general.

Rangolis Stones Mandala
Image by Maitri Lens from Pixabay

How to S.T.E.A.M. Up Distance Learning

In my third article for the NEO Blog, which was published today, I give a detailed look at how S.T.E.M./S.T.E.A.M. instruction can be accomplished remotely.  The article has links to many resources, so you will likely find at least one new helpful tool somewhere in the post.  You can read, “How to S.T.E.A.M. Up Distance Learning” here.

My previous NEO articles have been: How Distance Learning Fosters Global Collaboration, and How to Use Design Thinking in the Classroom.

Next month’s article will be, “Applying Universal Design for Learning in Remote Classrooms.”  As always, I would love reader input on this topic.  If you have any resources or examples that would be helpful, please comment on this post!

STEAM Up Distance Learning
Image by janrye from Pixabay

Social Distancing Hacks

One of the challenges I have with students when we are doing Design Thinking is to teach them to embrace constraints.  Sometimes I will get feedback from them at the end of projects that “we should be able to do whatever we want,”  despite my explanation that my experience has shown that complete freedom can often be too overwhelming – and sometimes not very safe.  So, I’ve been watching the slow emergence of innovative ideas coming out of our current pandemic situation with some delight at the creativity being revealed as people try to design around social distancing.

These are all basically ideas using, at the very least, the “Adapt” step of S.C.A.M.P.E.R., as people attempt to find ways to stay healthy while still leaving their homes.  After you show them a few of the linked images, students might enjoy designing their own social distancing hacks for school, shopping, the beach, etc…  I’d love to see their ideas!

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Image by db_oblikovanje from Pixabay

 

Art Jumpstart

Darrell Wakelam (@DarrellWakelam) is an artist who shares his considerable talent by doing workshops with children at schools and museums.  During the quarantine I have noticed Wakelam’s tweeting free #ArtJumpStart activities, and I asked him for permission to write about them on this blog.  I had no idea that he had so many available on his website!

Each #ArtJumpStart consists of a pair of pictures.  The first one shows his completed project, and the second one gives instructions.  As you can see, the materials should be fairly easy to find in most households, making these works of art ideal projects for students staying at home.  The hope is that these will inspire students to create and innovate no matter where they are.

You can download the full gallery of #ArtJumpStart projects here for free.  Also, be sure to check out Wakelam’s photos of his art on this page of his website.

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Cardboard Fly Trap by @DarrellWakelam, https://www.darrellwakelam.com/
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Cardboard Fly Trap Instructions by @DarrellWakelam, https://www.darrellwakelam.com/

Lego Quarantine Build Challenges

Aaron Maurer (@aaronmaureredu), a STEAM educator who blogs at Coffee for the Brain, is hosting a month of Lego challenges during May, 2020.  Each week is a different theme, and each weekday he posts a new challenge for that week’s theme.  Before beginning the challenge, participants are asked to select 100 pieces from their Lego collection and post a picture of those pieces.

You can view the instructions from Maurer in the video below, as well as on this page (which includes a link to a form).

For the week of May 4th (this week, can you believe it?!!!), the theme is, “Movie Genre.”  Each day is a different genre, with the first day being science fiction (of course!).  You can see the builds for Week 1 that have been assigned so far on this page.  Clicking on each build card will take you to the page with guidelines and pictures of builds that have been submitted so far.

Maurer already did a different Lego challenge last month, and used feedback he garnered from those participants to create this month’s lineup.  Based on that input, he is also doing some livestreaming this month, so be sure to click on that button at the top of the website if you are interested.

I think this idea is really going to blow up, as Maurer had hundreds of participants from all over the world for the last challenge.  (You can see the map when you scroll down on the Home Page.)  If you’ve got kids who love anything Lego-related, this is their opportunity to be inspired and get creative!

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Image by M W from Pixabay

 

The Creativity Project

The Creativity Project is a book edited by Colby Sharp, a 5th grade teacher in Michigan who is one of the co-founders of “The Nerdy Book Club Blog.”  For this book, Sharp reached out to forty-four authors and illustrators of children’s books to ask them to send him two creative prompts.  After receiving these, he mixed them up and mailed two of the prompts to each contributor, who could then select one to which they would respond. The chosen prompts and results are collected in this book, along with the forty-four unused prompts.

As you read the book, you will be astounded by the imaginative collection of short stories, comics, poems, and illustrations that the creators chose for inspiration, as well as the responses they whimsically crafted.  You may feel like you are immersed in an exposition of improvisation that appears on the pages instead of the screen.

I wanted to list some of the authors and illustrators who participated, but then I felt like I would be granting those names more importance than the ones omitted.  For the full list, you can look at this page on Sharp’s website.

If you know someone who struggles with choosing writing topics, this book is a great gift to give or share!

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Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay