1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am an early childhood consultant with a passion for helping children become successful learners and socially competent. During my professional career, I have been an author, a publishing company vice president, a trainer, a state early childhood administrator, and a classroom teacher. Since my retirement in 2012, I have been volunteering my time with the Knock Knock Children’s Museum where I am on the board of directors and the Education Chair.
Knock Knock Children’s Museum will provide learning zones (exhibits) and programs to stimulate informal learning experiences for young children, birth to age 8. Knock Knock Children’s Museum is under construction in City-Brooks Community Park on Dalrymple Drive in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and will serve the families of the Capital Region. One learning zone within the museum will be the Knock Knock Maker Shop that will include making, tinkering, and design engineering.
2. What are you presenting at the Baton Rouge Mini Maker Faire?
Knock Knock is excited to be located in all three of the story time rooms of the Children’s Library. Members of our Education Advisory Committee will be on hand to assist children ages 3-11 with the following experiences:
- Squishy Circuits is a playful way to explore and create electrical circuits using two different recipes of play dough.
- Circuit Blocks will be used to tinker with electricity using everyday objects. Children will use alligator clips to connect batteries to lights, buzzers, motors, switches and more.
- Scribbling Machines made by Paige Zittrauer’s kindergarten class at the LSU Laboratory School will be on display. A scribbling machine is a motorized contraption that moves in unusual ways and leaves a mark to trace its path. It’s made from simple materials and demonstrates the erratic motion created by an offset motor.
- KIBO Robotics is specifically designed for children ages 4-7. KIBO, developed by a team from Tufts University and MIT, is designed for open-ended play. Children can turn KIBO into almost anything—a character rom a story a carousel, or a dancer. They then create a sequence of instructions (a program) using wooden KIBO blocks. They scan the blocks to tell the robot what how to move.
- Rigamajig is a large-scale building set designed for open-ended play and learning. This collection of wooden planks, wheels, pulleys, nuts, bolt and rope allows children to follow their curiosity through play. Children follow their own curiosity to learn about engineering, design, architecture, art, and science through playing.
3. What is the first thing you remember making?
I think I must have inherited the desire and mindset to make and tinker from my parents. My mother was “crafty” and would make everything from wreaths out of pine cones to beautiful needlework. My dad liked to tinker and figure out how things worked. I clearly remember when Etch-a-Sketch first came out and he disassembled it to figure out how it worked! I consider myself to be a dabbler—I enjoy the process of making and tinkering and will try most anything. Growing up I recall loving the “Make and Do” volume of our Childcraft Encyclopedia. I think I must have tried to make everything in that book!
4. What have you made that you are most proud of?
That’s hard to say! I just completed an online course on Tinkering from the Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco. The course was amazing and pushed me to tinker, grapple with problems, come up with solutions, and really think outside the box in an innovative way. During this six weeks, I had to figure out how to solder, build circuit blocks, create scribbling machines, create paper and sewn circuits, and disassemble old mechanical toys and figure out how they worked. While there is no one single finished product that I would showcase, I am most proud of the skills I learned and the mindset to tinker that evolved during this course.
5. Given an unlimited budget, what would you make?
That’s easy! I would make Knock Knock Maker Shop the most phenomenal maker space ever for young children in the Capital Region! The focus will be on making, tinkering, and design engineering. Children will build and tinker with old and new technologies, complete exciting projects and use cutting-edge media. The space will be oozing with wonderful reusable resources donated by local businesses and the community. There will be real tools and emerging technologies for children to explore. They will put things together, take things apart, invent a new contraption, and solve problems using everyday materials. Children and families will learn to work together, collaborate, and share their discoveries. The maker shop will have mentors, especially girls and minorities, to be role models for young children to follow. We will invite makers, like those at the Baton Rouge Mini Maker Faire, to demonstrate their craft to young children and inspire them to become makers! We would have after-hour workshops for teachers so that they could bring making into the classroom while building STEM/STEAM literacy. Knock Knock Maker Shop would be a model for other museums and the world to replicate. It will be a place where children can build confidence in their abilities as well as a strong foundation for STEM learning as they move through the grades.