A Call to Tinkering

It’s been a busy summer for me this year: William and I were married four weeks ago, and when we returned I began working for the reDiscover Center’s Pasadena expansion of their Tinkering Camp project.

The idea behind tinkering camp is to teach kids to use tools, give them access to materials and help them generate ideas, and then just let them do their thing. Continue reading

History Games: Why I Love Mount & Blade

Data Theory Play llama in historical viking costume holding sword

The Mount & Blade franchise is the work of an indie studio in Turkey, TaleWorlds Entertainment. It is a terrific game as well as a terrific history lesson, one the best examples I know of an educational game that is just superbly fun as well as imparting information and stirring curiosity for its subject matter.

Mount & Blade boasts a handful of unique play experiences. One of them is its excellent riding and mounted combat. The sandbox gameplay is also well done, with many different approaches to play; the game will congratulate players for a variety of achievements, rather than encouraging one particular path to “winning,” but satisfaction comes from watching your own plans come to fruition. Continue reading

(Word) Problem to Project?

I’m taking calculus for the first time right now, and it’s got me thinking about math learning a lot, especially how to build intuition for math concepts and see them as tools for problem-solving in the real world.

As a grade school student, I always liked word problems in math class, for two reasons:

  1. There’s a heuristic pleasure in reading a passage and figuring out the math problem hidden in it. This is much more interesting to me than just getting the math problem by itself.
  2. There’s considerably less math per character in a word problem than in a block of equations. Since I suffered from fear of math in school, this was a big plus for me.

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Educational Games & STEM Toys: (Anti-)Gift Guide

STEM toys and educational games are big business these days, which means that every toy and game company wants a piece of the market – and many games and toys with questionable educational value will be trying to get under your Christmas tree (or other gift-harboring analogy) this holiday season.

Here are my thoughts on avoiding the over-engineered fluff and getting straight to the stuff that will actually encourage your kids to think, imagine, and innovate.

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