It goes without saying that STEAM (Science, Technology, Education, Art, and Math) education is a hot topic with families today. Getting kids to become "makers" working with hands-on projects is not only fun, but an important part of learning how our world today works and getting prepared for future careers. Working on STEAM activities often involves lots of expensive equipment like computers, laser cutters, soldering stations, power tools, and 3D printers, and of course a space in which to work—and that's where local maker spaces like the CEC Maker Space and Media Studio at South Novato Library come into play.
If your kids are looking for something fun and rewarding to do over Winter Break, why not make that screen time fun and educational by completing an Hour of Code? Hour of Code officially took place during Computer Science Education Week earlier this month, but if you missed it or just want to have more fun learning some code there are some great online resources out there for you to explore.
We've been experimenting with making stop-motion movies for a while now, using various tools like our DSLR and iPads, but we recently got a review copy of the new HUE Animation Studio and it's changed our filmmaking world!
HUE Animation Studio is a complete kit that includes almost everything you and your kids need to create your own stop-motion movies, including a 720p USB camera, software for Windows or Mac, and a guidebook. You have to provide the imagination! Great sources for animation fun that you probably have on hand include LEGO minifigs, Playmobil figures, and other toys and action figures, modeling clay, and even drawings.
While you likely know that the Microsoft at The Village at Corte Madera is your one-stop-shop for best-in-class products like Surface Pro 3, Xbox One, Windows Phones, and the new Microsoft Band, did you also know that it offers free coding camps for kids? Thanks to the YouthSpark initiative, a Microsoft-wide commitment to empowering 300 million young people with opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurships, these engaging and entertaining after school and weekend camps are now offered year-round! Today's youth face an opportunity divide—a gap between those who have access to the skills and training they need to be successful, and those who do not—and these camps seek to close that gap.
If you have a technology-minded kid who wants to explore the world of computers beyond just playing Minecraft and surfing the web, then check out the offerings from the MV Code Club, which just opened its second Marin location in Greebrae's Bon Air Center. Founded last year by Mill Valley software designer Douglas Tarr, MV Code Club offers boys and girls in 1st through 10th grade coding instruction in a fun and engaging environment.
Kids can get hands-on with 21st-century technology and the arts at San Francisco's Children's Creativity Museum in the city's Yerba Buena neighborhood. Formerly known as Zeum, this fun and educational resource on the roof of Moscone Center is the perfect place for families with kids of all ages. You can literally spend all day here working on projects and having a blast.
The Children's Creativity Museum offers numerous opportunities for imaginative play and learning, and features a stop-motion animation studio, a music studio, a design studio, an innovation lab, art galleries, and more. The museum also boasts a fantastic 1906 Looff carousel, which is currently undergoing an extensive renovation. It and its hand-carved menagrie of 65 animals is due to re-open on Saturday, April 26, 2014, so you won't have long to wait to ride it again!