Interactive Learning Tools  

Kinesthetic learning tools and
activities for children & young people

Systems Thinker is a primer tool for learning and using systems thinking in a format that is interactive, accessible, and encourages group discussion and collaboration. Aimed at young change-makers who may seek new ways to expand their understandings of issues and their opportunities for making a difference across scales, Systems Thinker breaks down a complex system (in this example, climate change and its relevant impacts to Rhode Island) and then introduces discussion prompts, questions, and methods for building out intervention opportunities.

The tool remotely was tested with classmates, individuals with little to no experience with systems thinking and systems design, and high school students. It was made as a printable grayscale letter-size PDF so it can be made inexpensively and without extended need for internet or computer access. Lowering this barrier to access along with using simple language is intentional in expanding who can engage with systems thinking. Systems Thinker argues that understanding the systems we live in as complex — and opportunities for change as scalable, possible and across industries and disciplines — is foundational to making a more civically-engaged, empathetic, and just society. Next steps would be to re-assess and expand the interaction arrow symbols for more nuanced meaning and to build out other "editions" for elementary school-age children as well as for groups with more advanced experience with systems thinking and design.

SEW ALIVE! (2020)
Sew Alive! lets kids imagine and construct their own light-up soft toy. The craft activity addresses my early question: How might I teach kids STEM through sewing skills? And sewing through STEM? Through research into the kids sewing crafts and circuit-making markets and feedback from parents, teachers, and children, Sew Alive! proposes an opportunity for kids ages 8-12 to learn sewing and basic electronic circuitry in a way that is creative, open and adaptable.

Circuit Play emphasizes free play and kinesthetic learning to introduce circuits and conductivity. The set of puzzle pieces, wrapped in copper foil and attached to an Arduino, uses capacitive touch sensors to build out a form that can move and light up by human touch. Puzzle pieces fit together by slots and allow for infinite formations and more complex interactions. Human touch powers the Arduino pieces, turning on LEDs and servo motors. The project is intended for an educational experience that is explorative and open, allowing kids to learn through experimentation.