Sunday, April 28, 2013

Museum of Natural History

Our archaeological dig is just around the corner and to prepare we usually go to a museum in NYC with Geof Pursell, affectionately known as Big Dog.  As we are researching the Maya, he chose the American Museum of Natural History as the museum with the best representation of Maya artifacts in our vicinity.  We were a group of 8 families, all excited to hear what Geof had to tell us.

Geof communicates using stories.  He was trying to help us understand the world view of the Maya. The Maya were a very successful civilization lasting 4000 years.  They developed a powerful way of helping people deal with the uncertainty in their lives.   The Maya developed a fascinating culture and belief system, the nuggets of which Geof shared with us, enthralling us with stories of smoke snakes, piles of childrens' bones and giant canoes.  Such great stories!  Geof helped us make sense of what we were seeing in the museum and to construct the story of how it must have been so many years ago. He teaches us to think like an archaeologist.

Dig Preparation

We are preparing for our next Dig experience which will take place early May.  We have already visited the University of Pennsylvania to see the Maya 2012 exhibit, had a special Maya history tour of the American Museum of Natural History with archaeologist Geof Pursell and watched a bunch of documentaries.  To complete our dig preparation I wanted to make a giant timeline with the kids depicting the time periods and make a large topographical map of the area.

This was an opportunity not just to learn about the Maya culture but to practice research skills. It was fun (and a little exhausting) and such a gorgeous day that we all hung out on the verandah afterwards and relaxed.

Mini-Maker Faire

We had a great day out at the Maker Faire yesterday.  It was a stunning spring day and people came out in force to see the exciting things that people had made.   For me, the day was the culmination of our year-long tech class led by Paul Chayka from Robotics and Beyond.  In the class the children had come up with something they wanted to make.   Finally the day had come for the kids to show the world what they had made.

Claire decided she wanted to make a tracking dog collar.  The prototype was equipped with a GPS system, to track the location of the dog and a screen that displays your phone number along with the dog’s name.   It was a complicated project with many components, which all had to be connected on a bread board and a basic stamp micro controller.  Claire wrote the program on Paralax.

The children had plenty of opportunity to share what they had made with the community.  Thousands of people came by during the day, and it was fun to catch up with old friends and other homeschoolers who came by and hung out with us.

Maker Faires are inspirational places. I loved wondering around getting ideas for future projects. I might just have to get a 3D printer!

Tristan's idea was to make a lego Minecraft terrain and a remote controlled robot with a claw that would pick up lego pieces and move them around the board.  He had fun sharing his project (for a while) before the lure of all the projects going on around him were too much to resist.

I couldn't wipe the smile off Tristan's face all the way home in the car!  It was a great day.