For me winter is Robot Season. My middle school class is up and running, a Tuesday and a Thursday section with a dozen hyperactive DangerMonkeys in each.
|Cutting wheels with a hole saw. I finally got smart enough to ask them to do this over a wastebasket!|
Sometimes people ask me why I take a considerable amount of time to teach these classes. I suppose I could instead be, oh I don't know, working or laying on a beach or something. Well, first of all it is fun. There is a little remnant of the destructive middle schooler left in most of us.
But honestly part of the reason I do this is that kids now days get almost no opportunity to tinker with things. They don't build stuff. The world they live in is largely defined by immaterial images on screens, generated by Chinese made printed circuit boards that you can't just rip out and play around with. In my long ago and largely feral childhood we built go karts and dismantled home appliances and built things that would probably not be entirely legal if looked at in a certain light.
Now I have kids who literally do not know which end of the screwdriver to use.
So think of this as my lonely crusade against a technological Dark Age of Ignorance. But the challenge at hand is not as in past Dark Ages the actual loss of practical skills. No, in the garishly lit, cacophonous "Bright Age of Ignorance" the ability to create with your own hands is just being overwhelmed by seductive, distracting, insubstantial ether.