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Ultimate Family Maker Night Brings Families Together

Earlier this week in collaboration with The Digital Harbor Foundation The Exploratory held an Ultimate Family Maker Night at the Tinker.Make.Innovate. Lab. We provided two free fun maker activities for children of all ages: Paper Circuits and Nerdy Derby. Parents and children alike used wood, tape, and glue to create little derby cars to race on our 56 foot long nerdy derby 3-lane track. They also used recyclable materials to build unique designs which helped them learn engineering and art simultaneously. The families that came to the maker night made connections with each other and The Exploratory staff.

As I walked around the space I could hear lots of laughter and lots of questions which put a smile on my face because that is what we want The Exploratory to be all about. We want children and adults to ask questions, be creative, and even fail. Learning how to fail and try again is one of the best lessons children can learn and an effective way they learn this is watching how their parents deal with it. I saw both children and adult failing in their projects and getting back to the drawing board to tinker and experiment with it. Finally, I also saw the joy in a kid’s eyes as they were tinkering and eventually successful with working with electronics to make his LED light glow.

Overall, this was a very fun night and just by being the observer/photographer I learned so much about the importance of failure as well as success. After the success of such an event we are in talks to make this a monthly night for the next two months of summer (July and August) as sort of a pilot for this program to see how it goes and work out the kinks. We we let everyone know soon the dates and times of such events if they are to occur.

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You're Invited to the Ultimate Family Maker Night!!

You're Invited to the Ultimate Family Maker Night!

Ultimate Family Make Night is an event where families come into our space and work on hands-on, maker projects together. This event is a collaboration with Digital Harbor Foundation and other maker organizations across the country where each will host a family-focused event (Family Make Night) simultaneously on Tuesday June 16 in their respective locations as part of a nationally coordinated effort. The Ultimate Family Maker Night will share a joint hashtag with collaborators as well.

 

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Librarians Learn to Play Games!

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Librarians Learn to Play Games!

Librarians Learn to Play Games!

After this initial exercise, Rex went through a presentation about game mechanics and then he decide to tests the librarians knowledge with some Rock, Paper, Scissors. However, instead of the regular way, Rex made it a challenge/competition. The first round everyone was sitting on the floor, if they won a hand they could sit in a chair, and if they won against someone else sitting in a chair they could stand up and keep playing other standing people. They could only play people on their same level. and if they lost had any level they had to go down a level.

Last week we invited 25 local librarians to The Exploratory to participate in our Games! Professional Development Session. Rex Beaber, an education games curriculum developer and expert, came by to teach the educators all about the mechanics of game psychology, why it works so well for youth engagement and learning and how to use recycled materials to create games on the spot. The focus was on how to make play and games unique and fun for youth while teaching them about design and making and STEAM.

First, to show the librarians how complex a simple game can get after you add a couple extra rules and the importance of rules in a game, Rex had them play thumb war with people around them. They realized that everyone may have different rules when it comes to the game and how important it is to communicate the rules before playing. Next, Rex added a few rules himself which were that everyone had to play thumb war with two people at a time and everyone in the room had to be connected. After the awkward silence, hilarity ensued as the librarians tried to figure out how they were going to make Rex’s rules happen.

After the excitement of Rock, Paper, Scissors, the librarians finally got to create their own games out of recycled materials that we have in the makerspace. We saw games like a skee-ball game, interactive mazes, and a new mouse trap type game. Overall, I could tell that the librarians had a great time by the smiles on their faces and the sounds of their laughter. Games! was a success and I can’t wait to hear about all the children they inspire through games like the ones they created.

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The Exploratory provides STEAM and Making to Boys & Girls Club

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The Exploratory provides STEAM and Making to Boys & Girls Club

The Exploratory provides STEAM and Making to Boys & Girls Club

A couple of months ago, we reached out to the Mar Vista Gardens Boys & Girls Club about providing a class or a club for all their participants, and a beautiful partnership was born. After discussing their needs and resources we decided to provide free STEAM programming for ALL the children participating in their summer camp. The campers will be inventors and use electronics, coding and more as they design and make something to impact their community!!

The Boys & Girls Club Mar Vista Gardens Branch is available to children between the ages of 6-18 years old, as well as Mar Vista Gardens Residents during adult program hours. It is the first Boys & Girls Club to be in a low income community housing project, and because of its’ location it caters to the local area’s most underserved community. In fact, most of the families this club serves have been in the housing unit for generations. Their population is mainly Hispanic, 10% African American, and then lower percentages of Caucasian and Asian.

To further The Exploratory’s mission to bring STEAM and making opportunities to ALL children, we will be hosting 15 kids per week for 10 weeks starting with teens so that they can learn to be teen counselors. We will also be training staff and volunteers so that they can gain the skills needed to continue this type of programming all year round. After the 10 week session there will be a showcase at the end of the camp showcasing the kid’s inventions at the club’s gym for the the Mar VISTA community so that they young inventors can show off their work.

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Parenting Seminars Provided by a Friend of The Exploratory

Parenting Seminars Provided by a Friend of The Exploratory

Our friend Betsy Brown Braun of Parenting Pathways, Inc. will be offering parenting seminars this summer on different topics ranging from dealing with discipline to talking about the Birds and the Bees. Betsy Brown Braun is a child development, behavioral specialist, parent educator, and renowned author of two parenting books, “Just Tell Me What To Say” and “You’re Not The Boss of Me” so she knows a thing or two about what parents need to know when addressing the hard topics that come up when raising a child/children. Below is the full schedule for ALL the seminars this summer. We hope you enjoy these excellent opportunities! To register you can go to http://betsybrownbraun.com/services/register-now/.

Summer 2015 Individual Parenting Seminars Presented by Betsy Brown Braun

THE BIRDS and THE BEES: Tuesday, July 21, 2015 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

The Child’s Path to Learning about Sexuality

“Where do babies come from?” Being prepared for the tough questions often makes answering them easier. This seminar will explore address “those” questions from a developmental perspective and provide a context for your answers. Children’s emerging sexuality and the accompanying behaviors will be explored.

DISCIPLINE DO’S and DON’TS Wednesday, July 22, 2015 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. &  Wednesday, August 12, 2015 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Limits and discipline are challenges for parents of children of all ages as they try to figure out how the world reacts to their actions and behaviors. This seminar will address the whys, whens, and hows of discipline that will lead to the self discipline we want our children to develop.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL HERE I COME!, Tuesday, July 14, 2015 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

A framework for observing, assessing, and choosing an elementary school will be presented at this seminar. Private and public schools in the City and the Valley will be discussed along with the application process, school visits, interviews, and a timeline for applications.

GIMME! GIMME! GIMME! Wednesday, August 19, 2015 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

In these economic times, it is more important than ever that we raise children who have more gratitude than gimme. This seminar will address the cures for our children’s spoilage and suggest ways to cultivate the values we believe to be the most important.

KEEPING YOUR CHILD SAFE Wednesday, July 8, 2015 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

This critically important topic will be addressed as we discuss age appropriate prevention and preparedness. The presentation will include: dealing with strangers; child abuse prevention; family safety; what every child needs to know ,and what every parent should know.

LEARNING ABOUT DEATH Wednesday, July 15, 2015 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

You don’t think you need this seminar...but you do! All children will wonder about death, and the subject is daunting for all of us. Young children can be given a healthy foundation for learning about death, and it starts when the child is around two years old. This seminar will present the language and the process for teaching young children about death...before they are forced to learn about it.

MIRROR, MIRROR: Tuesday, June 30, 2015 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Your Child’s Body Image

Helping our children, girls and boys, to develop a healthy body image is a real challenge in today’s “hurry and grow up” world. The factors which contribute to a positive body image and the parents’ rolls in its formation will be discussed in this seminar. Practical tips and suggestions for facilitating a positive body image will be offered to parents of even the very young child.

NURSERY SCHOOL KNOW HOW Tuesday, June 23, 2015 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

This seminar will acquaint you with early childhood programs (preschools/nursery schools) available in the City and Valley. We will discuss school philosophies, a framework for finding the school that is right for your family, and a timeline for observing, choosing, and applying to nursery school.

CULTIVATING RESILIENCE Tuesday, July 29, 2013 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Every parent wants to raise a child who is resilient. Learning how to cultivate this character trait that will enable your child navigate life’s inevitable bumps and curve balls is what this seminar will addresses.

SIBLINGS! Tuesday, August 5, 2015 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.

The pleasures of a large family don’t have to be overshadowed by sibling problems. This seminar will address sibling relationships, offer suggestions for dealing with the inevitable fights and rivalries, and offer ideas for promoting positive sibling interactions, as well as the pitfalls to avoid.

Registration information can be found at http://betsybrownbraun.com/services/register-now/

After May 15, please email to confirm (info@parentingpathways.com) that there is still space in the seminar(s) for which you wish to register before mailing your registration and check.

 

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One Child's Passion Project

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One Child's Passion Project

What is important to you?

For Hudson, there is nothing he loves more than animals. He especially loves dogs and cats, and he joyously takes care of his two pet dogs – a Chihuahua named Rosie and a Dachshund named Mango – in addition to a litter of 8 adorable kittens that were rescued from an alleyway a couple weeks ago.    

Near his home, there is an organization that brings together passionate individuals, city shelters and a coalition of animal welfare organizations to end the killing of homeless pets in L.A. city shelters called No-Kill Los Angeles (NKLA). Hudson wants to volunteer there like one of his close friends, but he is too young.  

While he was initially disheartened, this did not deter him. He decided to create a business where he would make custom laser-cut pet tags with customers’ drawings engraved and donate all the proceeds raised to NKLA!

This endeavor eventually turned into his Passions Project for school. He used Inkscape, a 2D vector program to design the shape of the tags and used a programmable cutter called a Cricut to cut out the design on cardstock. After he made some adjustments, he moved onto the laser cutter, making his dog tags out of plywood.  He even wrote a letter to NKLA to get their permission to use their name and logos to make samples so that he could do his presentation at school to get orders.  

At The Exploratory, we empower children to be agents of their own future. We facilitate our summer camps so that each camper will have an opportunity to design and create toys, games, and other inventions that will impact the world.

How will your child change the world?

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How We Created a Fire-Breathing Dragon at Camp

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How We Created a Fire-Breathing Dragon at Camp

Aaron is a typical teenager. He is smart, loves to read, and gets along well with others but his parents are worried (with the best of intentions!) that his interests are too narrow. While most campers are excited and engaged when they first come to our camp, he showed up with an air of indifference. I could sense what was going through his mind – “What am I doing here?” He hesitantly went along with the activities we offered but neither knowing for himself what he wanted to do.


After the end of the second day during which our camp facilitators were brainstorming each campers’ different projects and how to scaffold them, we pulled Aaron aside to ask him what he really cared about – what his true passions were. He replied, dragons. 


Aaron loved reading stories and novels with dragons. After a bit more brainstorming, our amazing camp facilitators and Aaron came up with a plan to create a fire-breathing dragon in real life! (Try not to imagine the look on his parents’ face when he told them about his camp project!)


The next day, you could notice a definitive change in his attitude. He was eager to learn, try new things, and work with different tools he had never used. The dad who dropped him off in the morning was itching to know how we were able to engage him when everything else they tried was futile. Starting with a sketch, he then went on to learn how to use a jigsaw and band saw to cut out the pieces that would create the shape of his dragon. After hours of tinkering and revising, Aaron was able to get his fire-breathing dragon to work. This was easily one of the most breathtaking projects we facilitated.   


The mission of The Exploratory’s summer camps is to cater to each child's unique interest, ignite their natural spirit of curiosity, and awaken the fun in learning. Learn more about our camps on our website and sign up before space runs out!

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The Exploratory at Microsoft Los Angeles for Youth Pitch Day

The Exploratory at Microsoft Los Angeles for Youth Pitch Day

Down the street from The Exploratory makerspace is the Los Angeles Microsoft office which is where this year’s Youth Pitch Day was held this month. The Yang Camp and the Girls in Tech LA division put together this event to give kids the chance to explore differents aspects of presentation whether it is code, app development, posters, or robotics to pitch an idea to  professional judges in a relaxed setting.

The Exploratory provided all the participants with materials and expertise on using Makey Makey and Paper Circuits. The goal of the Makey Makey station was to use the Makey Makey and Scratch to create a story on a comic book layout that controlled the animation. So basically making their stories come to life through code and electronics.  The goal of the paper circuits station was to show younger children how art and electronics can come together in interesting ways. An introduction to electronics can inspire children in so many ways as we saw at this event.

On hand were mentors to help the participants to put together their ideas into a presentation before the judges. As they brought out the prizes, the adrenaline was pumping. The youngest presenter was 7 and the oldest teenagers. There were ideas from flying cars to an app that helped you put outfits together. The goal of the event was to provide an opportunity for these budding entrepreneurs to get a taste of what presenting in front of a crowd involves.

Can’t wait to see what these imaginative, brave young people will have for us in the future.


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Girls are Inventors and Innovators, too!

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Girls are Inventors and Innovators, too!

At The Exploratory, we believe that creative learning is innately born in every person and that a sustainable future depends upon our children being confidently armed with the tools to harness their imagination to create innovative solutions.

During last year’s summer camp, we asked the campers what problems they were dealing with in their day to day lives. Claire’s problem was that she had a hard time seeing and walking to the bathroom in the darkness at night. She could turn on the lights, but she also did not want to disturb her family members and potentially wake them up.

Her invention was the Moon Pillow – an ingenious pillow that lights up automatically at night without switches! By using conductive thread, she sewed LEDs with light-sensitive photo resistors to her pillow so that whenever it got dark, the pillow would glow just enough so that she would be able to see and walk to the bathroom. Bed Bath & Beyond is probably knocking on her door right now to try and sell these at their stores!

The Moon Pillow in a dark room. 

The Moon Pillow in a dark room. 

This summer, The Exploratory is continuing their flagship Tinker.Make.Innovate. Summer Camp for 12 weeks for children ages 6-12 to unleash their imagination and become inventors and innovators. For more information about camps, check out our camps page at http://www.theexploratory.com/camps-1/. For further inquiries, please contact Max Nishimura, Director of Operations at max@theexploratory.com.  

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Librarians Figure Out How To See What They Hear

Librarians Figure Out How To See What They Hear

Today we held another Sound Studio session this time the topic was on visualizing vibrations. There were three different stations that the librarians could participate in: Tinker with sound and vibration, design your own musical instrument, and play with sound and music. The goal of this session was to take what the librarians know about sound and music and challenge them to come up with a way to visualize what sound looks like so that they can teach children about it at their libraries.

Some of the teachers used different materials like beads, sand, oil, or water on top of a speaker and played different Hertz levels of sound (higher or lower) to see how the vibrations changed. After figuring out the different frequencies of sound and what the vibrations look like, the teachers played different music videos to see all the different frequencies and pitches all together.

After a couple hours of tinkering, our staff lead the librarians through a plussing discussion about the different stations and what they learned from the activities presented to them. Then we held a Q&A session so that the librarians could feel confident to hold these activities for children at their prospective librarians. Overall, our Sound Studio series was a success and gave many librarians the skills and knowledge to teach many children in the Los Angeles area.

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