Is this a STEM lesson?

Skunkworks tech learning at home

Art: Needlepoint in a Russian Village, Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky, 1936

It seems like, with the situation lately, everyone is trying to homeschool their kids. I’ve heard of some classes going on over Zoom, some where the teachers send packets of worksheets home, some where they send Chromebooks and do work there.

Fortunately, my oldest is only in pre-k, and she’s already pretty good with the Russian alphabet and counting, so all I have to worry about is that she’s getting some kind, literally any kind of educational content so that she doesn’t start drawing on the walls.

Given that I’m against a ton of screen time for small kids, we’ve tried to take a low-key approach that’s known as just trying to survive each day.

Like McSweeny’s writes,

We know there are parents out there who can both love their children unconditionally and also teach them Common Core mathematics. If this global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we are not those parents. Just because we chose to close our homeschool, it does not mean your mother and I do not love you. It means we love you enough to know we can either love you or teach you algebra, not both.

With that in mind, here are STEM projects we’ve done over the past couple days that I’m hoping will secure her placement at Princeton:

  • Learn to make a battery with Play Dough with this kit from Tech Will Save Us, learn what happens to your stomach if you eat Play Dough, learn about what happens when Mom finds out you’re trying

  • Learn how gravity works by building this Rube Goldberg machine that she got for her birthday a few months back, learn about how frustrated Mom and Dad get when you try to dismantle a piece they spent 20 minutes putting together, watch Mom and Dad try to fix this project and proclaim that probably setting up Kubernetes is easier, learn about how to quickly dismantle a Rube Goldberg machine and hide it in the basement

  • Learn about what happens when you start typing in Dad’s #general channel in his work Slack, even though you’ve been warned not to touch Dad’s work computer at least five times, just today

  • Learn about what happens when you mix ALL of your paint colors together on the floor in the kitchen, what happens when the baby comes in as a wildcard to interact with them, and what kind of reaction Mom might have

As for the baby, he fortunately has 24 years until medical school, so we’re taking it a little easier for his curriculum. We started experimenting on him from this book (from a local Philly author) that someone gave us when our oldest was born, but sadly found out that not only does he not like being experimented with, he basically just doesn’t care, which makes him a poor test subject.

Once we all survive this, please stay tuned for my best-seller on how to raise brilliant children in a low-tech environment, at least until 7 PM rolls around, the baby goes to sleep, and it’s Disney time.

What I’m reading lately:

  1. Some background on the Zoom IPO.

  2. What’s going to happen to telemedicine?

  3. Watching this b.s. very closely:

  4. Sweet comic about the author’s mom


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The Author:
I’m a data scientist. Most of my free time is spent wrangling a preschooler and a baby, reading, and writing bad tweets. Find out more here or follow me on Twitter.