Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tinkering School in the New York Times!

...and, by association, Austin Tinkering School was too! Whoo! Read all about it.... here.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A visit with Dallas Clayton!

Hot diggety dog! Dallas Clayton of An Awesome Book and An Awesome Book of Thanks did, actually really really did, come to visit Austin Tinkering School and friends last Saturday. As events go, it could not have been less sacharine or more genuine and buoyant and down-to-earth.... well, as down to earth as a reading could be that's up in a tree:Oh yes he did do the reading up in the tree. Also, I just have to say, before he had officially arrived, as people were just kind of milling around and I was trying not to act as nervous and spazzy as I felt, I saw him out of the corner of my eye skateboarding in the distance, just killing a few minutes before the reading.... a rather cool thing for an author/illustrator to be doing....
My son Jack really cozied up to him and sometimes I can get nervous that he's just coming on too strong, but Dallas really had excellent style in dealing with the kids, he was really funny and laid back. Jack started pantomiming the words to the book as he read them and Dallas just took it in stride and played into it, it was great. And then when it was time to give out the books he said, "I think people appreciate things when they earn them. So we have to think of a way for you to earn these books... " and they decided that he and Jack would have a tree climbing race, and if Dallas won he could keep the books, and if Jack won then everyone there would get a free book. I suppose you can guess how that turned out:

And then to top it all off he had some friends with him who played us some songs about pirates and such, it was, how shall I say, what's the word I am looking for here..... AWESOME. Yeah, that's it.

So the event came off very nicely, everyone had a wonderful time. On a personal note I had a bit of a junior high school regression which I did not foresee, where I was just feeling strongly that they were the cool kids and I just really wanted to fade into the background and admire them from afar. I had this really embarassing moment where some people were urging me to go over and get my picture taken with Dallas and I really didn't want to and my husband Matt said, "Kami, you really should. Just do it. Dallas! Hey, Dallas!" and I completely spazzed out and was all, "MATT!! NO!!!" And then of course I was kicking myself all day that I didn't just go ahead and do it. When will I learn, I really can hang out with the cool kids, I Can, I Can.....

I already do!

Friday, March 25, 2011

A visit with glass artist Bettye Holey!

We made night lights:
A few weeks later, our night lights were ready. They were beautiful!

It was like Christmas morning.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Exploratorium and 826 Valencia!

When I was at my whirlwind Tinkering School workshop in San Francisco a month ago, we had the great fortune to have about half a day to go to 2 places I have been dying to visit for positively years. These pictures are completely shoddy, but still if you've never been I suppose they're better than nothing. If you've never heard of 826 Valencia you HAVE to watch Dave Eggers talk about it here... 20 minutes of your life that could not be better spent.

They were having a mini-Maker Faire the day we went to the Exploratorium.... swoon, swoon. The theme was cardboard. I am so ecstatic that they had that action going on as an extra bonus. I have to admit that some of the Exploratorium was a bit disappointing, a lot of the stuff upstairs left me a bit cold. Sort of your standard Children's Museum "Press this button and learn, kids!" stuff.... just a tiny percentage of it, hardly worth mentioning really, but when I got to the explosion of creativity that was really making, creating, and doing.... that was when my head was really spinning. Meaningful hands-on learning experiences, which was the phrase that Gever kept mentioning to us... the kind of core of it all, what we're trying to create for kids. That, and dolphin tears. Oh wait, not dolphin tears after all. Just the learning experiences. Yeah, that's right.

This was ferrofluid:
This was a giant cardboard robot (as you can clearly see), and this was some sort of magnetic dust:

Friday, March 11, 2011

A visit with Revival Cycles and Gear!

Wow, this was really one of the most stupendous field trips ever. Their website is here. Fingers crossed that they'll teach a class for Austin Tinkering School, they said they were interested!