jervin
Tuesday 28th , 2014
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1560 I hear that question quite a bit in the Imagination Workshop, Kidspace’s newest exhibit.  In short, the Imagination Workshop is a space where kids can come to make, create, and build.  We keep tools and materials on hand and you come with your ideas and imaginations to bring to life.  Every day we host a “Project of the Day”, a short project that builds skills and gives a jump off point from which to make your own personal creation.  Of course anyone coming into the Imagination Workshop (or I.W. as we say in Kidspace speech) is welcome to use our resources to build a project of their own design.  So that is the short of it.  To be more specific here is a sampling of some of my favorite projects we play with in the I.W.:

  • 1561 Squishy Circuits:  Using conductive squishy dough we learn how circuits are used to make electronic devises work.
  • Automatons: Some people refer to these as the earliest form of robots.   An automaton is a clockwork devise that uses gears to make figures move up and down and spin.  Our simple cardboard automaton recipe has been used to make spinning ballerinas, rotating merry-go-rounds, pitching ships and jumping dolphins.
  • Catapults: We use stuff your average person might find around their house; clothes pins, rubber bands, plastic spoons, binder clips, popsicle sticks and tape to make fabulous mini catapults. Learn how the structure of the catapult is used to create tension on the catapult arm, the stronger your structure, the further your catapult shoots! Of course the best part is the target practice.
  • Take Aparts: Ever wondered what is inside a laser printer?  Me too!  How about what the inside of a radio looks like? What exactly makes a flashlight work?  We have lots of broken electronics and an impressive array of screwdrivers.  I think it’s time we found out.

The Imagination Workshop is a unique area.  There are not many other maker spaces like it in the United States for our age range.  To make the most of your time in the I.W. here are some tips:

  • 1562 Buddy up with your Grown-up: The I.W. is a real workshop with sharp tools, small choke-able components and electric appliances.  It’s important that every child is accompanied by their adult while in the Imagination Workshop.  If you are unsure how to use a tool, ask an educator for help.
  • Be Aware of Ages:  While much of Kidspace caterers to ages 0 and up, the Imagination Workshop is geared for children four and up. Early in the day we usually host a project for younger kids (4-6) then switch to something more challenging in the afternoons.
  • Make a Plan: If you want to make something in the I.W. other than the project of the day, consider sitting down and making a plan of what you would like to make before you go there.  While some of the best creations come from just letting the materials take you where they will, this saves quite a bit of time and frustration. Even just drawing a picture will help Imagination Workshop educators help you out building your project.  You can bring things from home if you do not think we will have a particular material on hand.
  • Use the Technology: Technology in the Imagination Workshop makes it easy to look up instructions, find online inspiration, and document your work. Don’t forget to fill out a survey before you leave.  These short and easy surveys give us empirical information on what projects guests enjoy most and help us identify problem areas that we can fix.

Now you know what we do in our plywood cave of wonders, please drop by to make, create and have fun in the Imagination Workshop!

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Blog Entry by:

Jenna Ervin, Science Specialist, has been with Kidspace since 2013. Raised in the Sierra Nevadas, she has previously worked in Yosemite National Park as a Naturalist Guide. She currently oversees the programming for Kidspace’s newest exhibits Imagination Workshop and Galvin Physics Forest.