Tech Experimentation with your Kids, by Stephen Tafoya

When I became a dad, naturally I was ecstatic; but beyond just the role of father and having a father/child relationship, having kids has opened up a whole new door that I didn’t even really see at first.

Experimentation!

Not like vials-of-bubbling-chemicals-that-I-make-my-kids-drink-to-gain-super-powers experimentation (but who knows what the future holds!). I’m talking about the opportunity to take all of my experience of working with kids, literacy development, and technology to try fun and innovative ways to help them learn and grow.

screen568x568For example, our household has recently delved into the world of Minecraft. Meaning I play Minecraft, my wife shakes her head at my new obsession, and the kids are clammering over each other to join in on my own gameplay excitement. Of course, PC Minecraft is pretty tough to control and can be a little scary at times, but my kids REALLY wanted to play it. So we researched and found an app called Toca Builders (by Toca Boca) in the iPad App Store, which is essentially Minecraft for kids.

Guess what? They LOVE IT! Not only are they being engaged in STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning, but they are developing really complex problem solving skills and having fun while doing it. My oldest daughter even took it upon herself to incorporate stuff she is learning in kindergarten math, creating fanciful artistic patterns for her buildings and saying, “Look at my AB pattern, Dad!”

My test subjects

My test subjects

Experiment: success!

What all this experimentation boils down to is not just “How do I do this?” but rather, “How should I approach and think about this?”

For example, most people who approach me (as a Technology Trainer) to help them figure out why something is not working on their phones are only seeking a fix. And those same people will keep coming back again and again, which is great because I LOVE helping people and solving a good problem, and it teaches them a new skill. But as technology goes, there are always going to be TONS of problems that need to be solved, and I wouldn’t be doing my job if, after feeding them a meal, I didn’t show them how to fish.

Translation: “Now that we solved your problem, let me now show you how I think about solving these kinds of problems.”

This is what I love about Little eLit. A site where we solve individual problems, share new ideas, but also teach one another how we think about a problem and approach the issue to solve it. It has the best of everything, and as a new contributor to the site, I cannot wait share with you in all these elements of EXPERIMENTATION!

Stephen Tafoya works as a Technology Trainer for a library district, and he partners with Youth Services Coordinators to engage kids and teens with technology in library programming.
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About Amy Koester

I'm a youth services librarian with a penchant for exciting ideas and engaging programs. It's a sure bet that if you talk to me about STEAM, whimsy, and trying new things, we'll be best friends forever.

Posted on December 30, 2013, in Literacy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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