Friday, October 26, 2012

Motor Skills? String? What?

There are days when I think of something amusing, or witty, or interesting to write about but then, I get home, I grade papers, I work on stuff for school and I'm just so damn tired, I don't even bother to turn on the computer and blog.

I hang my head in shame.  I have become a slacker blogger.

Things are chaotic, mainly due to STEM and having 152 students this year.   This week, for the first time since school started, I actually had a complete planning period.  And I almost didn't know what to do with myself.  It was amazing.  It was surreal.  And it won't happen again for a while.

We're embarking on our second STEM challenge next week.  The same challenge that we worked on over fall break (we being the 7th grade math and science teachers), that we've spent time shopping and scrounging for supplies, and that we've been preparing the kids for for ages.

I hope the kids are ready.

We do have a concern.  One thing we've noticed, and actually have been noticing for a few years now, is that there is an amazing number of kids who have very little common sense when it comes to building or doing things with their hands.  It's like they can do a whole lot of texting with their thumbs, but give them a chance to actually do something with all ten digits and they're lost.

We did a scaffolding activity called balloon racers a few weeks ago which is a lesson on Newton's third law (for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction).  Basically the kids had to design a balloon racer which is a balloon, which has fins and a straw taped to it.  You put the balloon on a long piece of string stretched across the room, let it go, and off it goes.

Our kids had a dickens of a time figuring out how to get the string through the straw.


You would have thought we'd asked them to do brain surgery.  Fortunately, most of them figured out which direction they had to put it on so it didn't blow up in their faces (although some did have the balloon take off towards them which was a scene of my hilarity for all).

And it wasn't just my kids.  Mrs. Eagle, and Mrs. Angora had the same problem.  And Mr. Math said the kids in the Lego Robotics club actually were having issues putting the pieces together.  And it got us to thinking.    These kids play differently than we did.  We used to play outside, tear apart things, build things, make go-carts, and boats, and fortresses out of boxes and gosh knows what else.  These kids play with a controller or a mouse or they text, text, text.  They don't get the experience of going, "hum, wonder what would happen if I did this?" to a real object.

Now, I do have kids who do have this kind of experiences - mostly my kids from the more rural area of my zone.  But the numbers are getting smaller and smaller every year.

Are we creating a generation of kids who can't do things with their hands?

1 comment:

Carmen said...

Yes, we absolutely are. The digital age is great in many ways but I doubt anyone thought the effects would be this far-reaching. Makes me want to take every toy my daughter has that has a computer chip in it and pitch it into the trash can. But at the same time, am I doing her a disservice by not preparing her for the technology she'll face?