I just came home from the Flagstaff, AZ, Festival of Science, a ten-day citywide extravaganza, and from the second annual World Maker Faire 2011, at the New York Hall of Science. And boy, is there excitement in the air.
The National Science Foundation has said it is supporting more science festivals because “we think something very significant is happening here.” What they mean is, if you want to show kids of any age how exciting science and technology can be, take them to a science festival or a Maker Faire. What’s different about festivals is that kids actually get to do science – and science and technology becomes something that kids continue to do the day after the festival…and the day and week after that, too.
Everyone concerned with STEM education worries about how to make elementary school students’ natural enthusiasm for science and invention last through big bad middle school — when kids start to turn off to science – and then through the rigors of high school, college, and graduate school, into adulthood. If students don’t take up STEM careers, we want them to become citizens who remain lifelong learners, who appreciate how much science and technology affect them. We want them to become citizen scientists, to do it themselves.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.