Archive for October 25, 2016

MIT and Harvard Want Your Kids to Scratch!

Programmers at MIT used a design-centric approach to develop a kid-friendly programming language that would engage children ages 8-16 who would not ordinarily see themselves as computer programmers.  The developers wanted to find a way to allow kids to become fluent in digital technology because while they already knew how to “read” it, not many of them had experience “writing” technology.

“Scratch is a programming language and an online community where children can program and share interactive media such as stories, games, and animation with people from all over the world. As children create with Scratch, they learn to think creatively, work collaboratively, and reason systematically.”

“We wanted to develop an approach to programming that would appeal to people who hadn’t previously imagined themselves as programmers. We wanted to make it easy for everyone, of all ages, backgrounds, and interests, to program their own interactive stories, games, animations, and simulations – and to share their creations with one another.”

Students using Scratch are able to see how purposeful practice increases their skills.  At first, students have great ideas, but are not able to turn those ideas into programs.  As they get more practice using Scratch, and complete more lessons and tutorials, they can see their ability as programmers increase so that they can accomplish their goals.

Karen Brennan, an Assistant Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education, developed a curriculum unit guide for Scratch called Creative Computing: A Design-Based Introduction to Computational Thinking.

“This guide provides an introduction to creative computing with Scratch, using a design-based learning approach. It is organized as a series of twenty 60-minute sessions, and includes session plans, handouts, projects, and videos.”

So what are you waiting for?  Let them Scratch!




The Design Thinking Process-Design A Children’s Ministry Space



The Design Thinking Process-Design A Children’s Ministry Space

#1: Understand. Develop Background Knowledge

Observe your  physical spaces.  Talk with your Children’s Ministry Team of children, church leaders, church members, and community members. Talk about what the Children’s Ministry is doing.  Ask questions and reflect on what is seen. Throughout this process, develop a sense of empathy.  Explore the web, and get information for other designed Children Ministry spaces.


Little Mountain specializes in children’s, youth and adult spaces creating stage sets, themed environments, interior design and digital puppetry.


#2: Point of view.  Focus on becoming aware of the needs of the Children’s Ministry space, and develop insights.   How will changes  that will have an impact on the children’s experiences be made in the space?

How might we engage the culture of our Children’s Ministry?

How might we show and invite all cultures of people into the  space?

How might we have children move through the space?


How might children engage in our experience design?

How might we support our Children’s Ministry narrative?

How might we make our children feel powerful by having a clear cause and effect on their immediate environment?

How might we create sharable stories that children, parents, and church members tell through word-of-mouth in the community and social media?

How might we make use of best practices with technology to merge the Children’s Ministry space with digital spaces.

How might we design a free mobile app that serves as a guide and memory book in order to enhance the children’s experience while in the space.  For example, access to interesting biblical facts and photos of the surroundings.

How might we design a way that children and caregivers can take and place favorite pictures and memories from their visit into a personalized memory book.  This book can be  shared using social media and kiosks onsite at the church.

How might we involve volunteer teen techies and techies locally, nationally, and internationally, in our Design group?

How might we make our Children’s Ministry space accessible to children and caregivers with disabilities.

How might we make use of a themed approach?

How might we eliminate hallways with corridors?.  How can we create assembly spaces for a group experience, with breakout rooms.


#3: Ideate.  Brainstorm an immeasurable categorization of ideas.  Take this action with merriment.  Suspend judgement.  No idea is far-fetched.  No one’s ideas are rejected.  Create. Become wishful thinkers and risk takers.

According to Feinberg & Keller, 2010, who wrote “Designing Space for Children and Teens in Libraries and Public Places”…Always keep in mind that the perception of scale for children is horizontal.  Children love small nooks or portals that are in scales with their own size.  Think about children crawling, walking, and sitting on the floor.


#4: Prototype.  Sketch and build models of the Children’s ministry teams ideas.

Don’t forget to add outdoor learning opportunities that  promote a direct experience with nature, and foster a sense of community and responsibility for the natural environment.

#5: Test.  Discuss what works and what doesn’t.  Then go back and modify the prototype.

Dream, create, and design a fantastic Children’s Ministry Space.




Bounce Pt. 3 New Ideas Emerged

Reflecting back on the Meta Analysis of How I Got to Now in comparison to Syed’s last part of his book, I found new insights. Syed(2010) claims, “A key difference between experts and novices is that experts are better at extracting information from what is going on around them” (p. 222).  This claim leads to critical thinking and keen judgements.  In my three creative examples the makers saw virtual glasses, instant replays, and online citizenship is in three different areas but had one similarity, changed the human experience because of keen judgement.   This insight is being focused on what is present and enhancing it to become better.  This is the critical thinking on behalf of an individual to make keen judgement.

One key point about the last part of Bounce is the false belief to fall in love with someone’s talent.   Thinking that the one’s talent is effortless and to keep up with them I need to cheat the rules to gain an edge with drugs.  Those I interviewed were Pastor Pat and Lady J reminded me of this issue of talent.  Looking at both of them being successful in their own lanes, it is not talent that separates them form others in their field, but the constant trail and effort.  Syed (2010) says, “ In a case where someone takes a drug to make them faster in a race, they benefit only if it is denied to others”(p. 250).  The playing field would never start out equal when someone has an artificial advantage, but like my interviewees they both work hard and practice new methods to keep them out front.

In conceptualizing what is creativity and my journey of my creative self a few new ideas emerged as I read Syed’s last chapter.  There is a question, “Is blacks superior runners?” Syed(2010) says, “Blacks athletes were rated by participants as being higher in natural ability”(p. 283).  If people start believing the hype of stereotypes that one group is out performing because they are just born like that,  it will stop the hope of trying. The genetics which is one small portion of the process must be coupled with high quality practice, mindset, environment, culture, and self-motivation.  Genetics and environment does the performer no good without a mentor/coach fine tuning the process.  The examples I used about my character program and flipped classrooms must be coupled with high quality learning, efficiency, growth mindset and practice.  These processes must stretch learner’s ability even if they fail because they get better with new territory charted.   Mindsets, self-motivation and environments have been some strong points I have seen in reaching successful outcomes in my writing of my meta-analysis paper.  One huge take away from the last part of Syed’s Bounce is performer must be intentional on practice, practice and more practice to become keen at their skill.




Syed, M. (2010). Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the science of success.

Harper Collins.


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