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Big Learning News 8-10-04

Big Learning News
Karen Cole's Guide to Real-World Learning with Kids
Issue 2:30 August 10, 2004

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Table of Contents

Web Site: The Ways of Knowing Trail
Book Review: The Art of Construction
On The Road: Musée de la Civilisation
Education Headlines on BigLearning.org


Web Site

Ways of Knowing Trail

Ages 5 and up with help, Ages 8 and up independently



Take a multimedia trip into the Amazon rainforest on the Ways of Knowing Trail. You're on the way to the village when your jeep breaks down - should you stay on the road or take the shortcut through the forest? Your guides will advise you but you get to make the decision - the first of many decisions you make on your journey. Along the way you see and hear Amazon animals, and you even eat grubs! The content will be of interest to all ages, but younger kids will need help with the reading, since none of the dialog is spoken.


Book Review

The Art of Construction: Projects and Principles for Beginning Engineers and Architects by Mario Salvadori, drawings by Saralinda Hooker and Christopher Ragus (Chicago Review Press, 1990).

Ages 12 and up.

Do you have a child who has always loved making huge TinkerToy structures? Or one who is always building forts out of odd items? You may have a budding engineer on your hands. Your budding engineer will read this book over and over. The Art of Construction explains engineering and architectural concepts in clear, engaging, and kid-friendly language without ever condescending or dumbing down. Throughout the book, Salvadori includes little projects kids can do to help themselves understand each concept. Topics include engineering concepts like compression and tension, construction techniques for tall buildings and bridges, and how buildings are reinforced to withstand strong winds and earthquakes. This seems like the kind of book that people would look back on and say, "That's when I decided to be an engineer."

This book would be all you'd need to start an after-school engineering club. It's a curriculum in itself. It would also make a great gift for a child or teen interested in engineering. Or, if you're the least bit curious about what makes buildings and bridges stand up, forget that the book is technically for kids and read it yourself. It's that interesting.

Buying Information


Big Learning on the Road

Musée de la Civilisation


This is one cool museum. It's so eclectic that it's hard to tell you what kind of museum it is. Right now, exhibits include one called "Sand" that is about, well, sand. Sand around the world, sand under a microscope, beach kitsch, physics of sand, sand castles and sculpture. There's even a room where you can lounge on beach chairs watching movies of beaches around the world.

Most of the exhibits are like that - interdisciplinary, at least partly hands-on, fun and even daring. Also stunningly beautiful. We kept thinking we should leave, only to be lured into just one more exhibit. We ended up spending most of the day there.

The kids especially liked the exhibit called "Make Way for the Middle Ages. They got to put on period costumes and do every-day activities as they were done in France from 1100 to 1300. The play environment is two levels, and kids can hoist foam "stones" up to the second level to build an arch. The crank that lifts the stone is powered by a kid walking inside a five-foot wheel (like a hamster, only bigger). Kids can also use a balance to weigh out produce in a store, "cook" in a kitchen, and more. The museum's page about the exhibit is here.




Education News on BigLearning.org

To Stem Dropouts, Urban Districts Switch Strategies: With nearly half of ninth-graders dropping out in some urban districts, administrators are listening to research and modifying draconian policies.

Behind the Music: A conductor partners with a Los Angeles middle school to inspire kids and teach them about the discipline that goes into music performance. The privately-funded program tries to fill some of the gap left when the school's music program was axed to make room for more reading and math.

Fourth-graders make a foray into publishing: Fourth graders collaborate on a local travel guide and see it published by Weekly Reader Press and iUniverse.

These and more at http://www.biglearning.org.



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