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Machine Makers

Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 3:09 pm
Posted by Hadassah

We began hearing Max and Geffen converse with each other using the word "machine" while at the water area. They seemed to have clear ideas about what a machine is, they knew it consisted of parts and that a something went inside, in this case it was water and "hammerhead sharks". Max also had a stronng sense that his hammerhead sharks had to transform somehow while inside the machine and then come out but he couldnt figure out how this could happen.DSCN0061.JPG

According to Wikipedia, a machine is a powered tool consisting of one or more parts that is constructed to achieve a particular goal.  What was their goal? We decided to print out pictures of various machines and hang them near the water area to see what would happen.

A few days later Geffen came in with his father and they looked at one of the pictures together and he began talking about the picture using the same language he used with Max  regarding the hammerhead sharks. Geffen not only remembered the play scenario but applied it to a two dimensional picture which was very intricate in detail, we call this Transferrable Knowledge. Transferrable Knowledge is when students learn how, when and why to apply their acquired knowledge to a new discipline or situation. It illustrates critical thinking and problem solving and shows internalized learning.

The next step was to invite the two boys into the Atelier to create blueprints of their machines and see if their same ideas stay the same in a different setting



They both retained their ideas of the machines being used for water and went further to each represent the flow of water in their machines using beads and marbles. They showed where the water went in and where it came out, but could they verbalize to their peers what their ideas were?


They both shared their blueprints at a reflection meeting and each one communicated clearly what the machines were used for and the paths the water took while inside.

Could they  once more go back to the three dimensional and once again transfer their ideas? Would the materials given to them take them off track and down another path? Did their presentations at meeting time garnish interest in other children for this project? Where do we go from here?DSCN0161.JPG

 Once again, their ideas were represented and another friend, Ryan was inspired by this project and also decided to become a Machine Maker. DSCN0164.JPGThere is ongoing research out of the University of Illinois at Chicago regarding the lack of deeper thinking skills in new college graduates. In the begginning of this research they blamed the collegiate system but after years of research they came to the conclusion that you have to go all the way back to early childhood. We have been so focused on general problem solving skills that we forgot about focusing on reasoning and adaptability within specific areas. Many blame  multiple choice tests that are constant from grade school through college and the lack of assessments that are geared towards reasoning and critical thinking. 

The Machine Makers are a small example of how we can mold curriculum around childrens interest yet push them to think deeper all the while holding  to state standards.  

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