On July 24, I was surrounded by sunshine, music, and the enthusiastic voices of hundreds of innovators in art and science filling the Plaza de Panama and the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa. There, educators, parents, children and passersby gathered to share ideas and learn from each other at the Play Day for Educators hosted by the Art of Science Learning (AoSL).
Incubator for Innovation:
At the heart of Play Day, teams from AoSL’s San Diego Incubator for Innovation presented their projects in progress and received feedback and support from the community. All nine teams will present their final projects on October 18th. Stay tuned for details!
Here are a few conversations that stood out to me:
- Waterstock: Many attendees considered the question “What would you do with the last water balloon?” giving answers like, “Drink it!” “Definitely feed it to my gold fish,” “I’d find a way to make more with it,” and “Use it to water a fruit tree.”
- Aqua Diao: After describing a prototype that converts the humidity in the air into drinking water using electrical currents, a 12-year-old enthralled by the prototype and the battery it works from asked, “Does that help steady the voltage?” and “How does that sensor work?” and other technical questions.
- Trash to Paradise: After walking through the plans and a mini prototype for filtration system made from recycled plastics and wetland plants to locally convert black water into gray water at a Tijuana church site a young woman echoed, “So you’re filtering water with plastics and soil instead of heavy machinery? That’s fantastic!”
In addition to the San Diego Incubator Teams, schools and organizations from around the county provided mini workshops to showcase the benefits of applying art to STEM education for even the earliest learners. Here’s what I heard:
- Feaster STEAM Charter: as Kim Richards, co-founder of STEAMConnect, struggled to make a pyramid from 4 pieces of connected circles, the Feaster engineering teacher pointed out, “I saw a kid earlier today solve the puzzle in one move from where you have it right now.” With a look of surprise and one twist, Kim solved the puzzle exclaiming, “I didn’t even see it at first!” Another Feaster team member chimed in, “Kids have an easier time with this the younger they are. As we get older we get so set in our ways, it’s hard to let go and imagine possibilities.”
- BuildTopia: Children used basic engineering design handbooks and recycled materials to model their own utopia. One little boy grabbed my hand and said excitedly, “I made it look like leaves fell out of the tree!” as he showed me his eco-friendly utopia complete with elevator tree house and duck pond.
- Rokenbok: Attracting by far the most and smallest kids, the Kid*Spark by Rokenbok play area held cars and lego-like bridges and buildings. A father watching his children guide Rokenbok cars over bridges mumbled to his wife, “This is fascinating. They’re all so calm.” As a little boy was being pulled away from a dump truck, he asked his mother disappointedly, “We need to go?”
Meanwhile young-at-heart adults marveled over 3D printed pieces that interfaced perfectly with Rokenbok’s.
- CRMSE: While creating a 3D drawing, anamorphic projection, a 4th and 5th grade math teacher shook his head saying, “There’s not enough art in math, my students would probably love something like this.” Pausing a moment, he asked the representative from the USD Theoretical Math extension, “Do you think fourth or fifth graders could handle this?” who replied “I do this with preschoolers and adults. They’ll do great!”
-By Romy Beigel, KDR PR summer 2014 intern & president of Team Paradox, the FIRST Robotics team at San Dieguito Academy