Fund This! Tinkerbots, Self-Directed Learning, and Gender Non-Conforming Kids!

Happy May! After a brief break in which I embarked on my own little funding project, buying and moving into a new house, we are back to our regularly scheduled look at cool projects worthy of consideration. Tinkerbots, a book on taking control of your own learning, and a platform for gender non-conforming kids!

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Photo courtesy of the Tinkerbots Indiegogo campaign

TinkerBots

While this campaign is already funded, I was sure GeekMom readers would want to know about it. TinkerBots are essentially blocks that turn Lego blocks into a robotics set. Yes, you could buy Mindstorms, but this product is aimed at being more user friendly and open ended. I was initially annoyed that they chose the common tagline, “Kids don’t even know they are learning!” Yes they do. Kids understand more than anyone that play is learning, and we need to give them more credit for that. But I do love that these are Lego compatible, meaning they will work with all the pieces you already have and I am excited that they are app controlled and Arduino compatible. There is a lot of potential here, from making a completed set come alive to using them to design something entirely new.

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Illustration by Shona Warwick-Smith courtesy of ASDL Kickstarter

The Art of Self-Directed Learning

Blake Boles is a passionate, creative young entrepreneur who discovered the writing of John Taylor Gatto while studying at UC Berkeley and was completely altered by the experience. He ended up taking control of his own education and subsequently has written two books and formed an organization around helping young people to do the same. He and I share the same philosophy around education and  learning, so I was excited to hear that he is embarking on another book project. This time, he is writing an illustrated series of short stories on the art and inspiration of self-directed learning. I can see this book being terrific for educators, parents, and young adults. It may be preaching to the choir for some of us, but we all need a little reminder sometimes that we are on a path we believe in. I also hope this book is inspiring for educators and parents within the public education system, giving ideas and validation for everything they do to try to inspire self-direction in their kids outside of what is often a very rigid and uniform experience.

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Photo courtesy of You Are You

You Are You

I stumbled across this campaign and was immediately invested. In the programs I teach, I am currently working with three gender non-conforming children. Their parents have given me wonderful guidance around the pronouns and more that the children prefer, but even in the ultra-progressive area we live in, I can see that it is still a challenge for these families: constant advocacy for them, and confusion on how to support these kids from their community. I am so excited to see this project telling the story, educating the public, and giving gender non-conforming kids a platform in which to see themselves reflected in such a beautiful way. I am so glad this camp exists, and I hope this project is one more step towards making every day full of joy and acceptance for every child.

Until next time, happy funding!

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