Things I’ve made. People I’ve met: a mid-summer summary

Constructing Modern Knowledge is underway, and this tweet from @DesignMakeTeach (or Josh) pretty much sums up my current emotional state.

Like DS106, my experiences at Constructing Modern Knowledge have influenced the way I approach many facets of my life from what I do in a school and library to how I parent my son.  The the DS106 community, I feel connected to many of the passionate and creative people I met in Manchester, New Hampshire last summer.

One day I’ll go back to CMK, but this summer I’m trying my best to recreate the CMK spirit in my own town.

I’ve been exploring e-textiles by mixing the old (embroidery) with the new (the e-textiles).

The 'wrong' side of the embroidery project

The ‘wrong’ side of the embroidery projec

Working circuit and an unfinished embroidery project.

Working circuit and an unfinished embroidery project.

I’ve been trying my hand at entry-level robotics by playing with the Finch and Snap! with hopes of using the Finch as a way to really learn Python.  Though the content seems attainable and Dr. Chuck is personable, the Coursera model isn’t for me.

My helper

My helper

I’m also playing around with the Mousebot, which is not less about robotics or even electronics and more about soldering practice for me.

There's lots of soldering to be done.

There’s lots of soldering to be done.

Bad soldering

Bad soldering

The kitchen is a good place for soldering as the stove vent sucks up gross solder fumes.

The kitchen is a good place for soldering as the stove vent sucks up gross solder fumes.

I don’t know if the Mousebot works yet, because I am still soldering.  It’s sometimes difficult to complete a project in a timely manner when one only has a couple of hours a few nights a week to work on it (and the other things that vie for my attention).

God, I really hope that Mousebot works.

Back in January, I mentioned my hopes of doing a local version of CMK during a #makered chat.  Andrew said (and I paraphrase, because I can’t find the twitter thread) that it only counts if one doesn’t work alone in a basement.  That resonated with me, and I’m trying to get out to work with other people.  Or at least forge relationships that will eventually lead to my working with other talented, passionate, and curious folks.

I loaded up my son and a bunch of tools and toys in a rental car and headed to Roanoke for a “Petting Zoo Times Two” program at their public library.  Outside were ducks, alpacas, goats, rabbits, etc.  Inside were robots, a 3D printer, a Makey Makey, e-textiles, and LED throwies sans magnets.

LED throwies sans magnets

LED throwies sans magnets

Here’s what you should know:  kids will go nuts over LEDs and coin batteries even if there are no magnets and throwing involved.  One saavy, young attendee made several LED doodads toward the end of the night and said he would sell them for $12.  I don’t think he was successful, but I admire the entrepreneurial spirit.

I also reupped my membership at Hack.RVA, where there is a vast library… in the bathroom.  Because I have a stunted sense of humor, I adore that.

The library should always be in the library.

I feel mildly weird about posting a picture of a bathroom on the blog, but oh well.

I also adore the abundance of expertise that exists with other members and their willingness to share.  RVA Maker Guild also hosts many events at Hack.RVA.  Some of the events are even child friendly.

The next generation of hackers/makers?  Hope so.

The next generation of hackers/makers? Hope so.

There are more connections to be made in Richmond.  A Coder Dojo has recently started up at the public library.  Rebecca Dovi is hoping to open computer science opportunities up to more kids in the area with CodeVA.  The list really does continue.

But this is enough writing for now.  I have to get back to that Mousebot and that Finch and the notebook hacking and another embroidery/Lilypad project that I’m kicking around that involves the Sauer’s sign here in Richmond.

photo credit: Matt Carman via photopin cc

photo credit: Matt Carman via photopin cc

Opening up

Here’s a story about my kid and me.  Maybe you’re interested, maybe you’re not.  I also posted it first at my other WordPress blog.  One day I’ll stop posting things to both sites, but until I work out my virtual identity crisis….  Bear with me….

I’m about two steps from coming completely out of my skin.  The boy starts preschool tomorrow.  More specifically he starts a developmentally delayed program tomorrow.  I haven’t been this anxious about the boy and parenting since he came home from the hospital.  What’s circling like buzzards in my head space right now:

  • What if he hates it, and everyday is a fight to get out the door and to school?
  • What if he doesn’t eat lunch?
  • What if he doesn’t take a nap during nap time (the day is long–from 9 to 3)?
  • What if the teacher or assistant is mean?
  • What if he learns to say f*** or s*** from the other kids?
  • What if he climbs up the ladder on the playground and falls off, breaking a limb or splitting something open?!
thanks John Watson (Flickr)
  • What if he’s NOT THERE WHEN THE HUSBAND GOES TO PICK THE BOY UP!!!!????

JESUS CHRIST!  How do we let our kids OUT of the house EVER?

Ok.  Breathe.  Breathe.

Ok.  I’m ok.

I’m trying my best to accept the fact that this little boy is growing up, but it’s not easy.  How did we get to the first day of school ALREADY?

And what on earth is this developmentally delayed stuff all about?

The boy wasn’t really talking much, so the husband and I had him evaluated by Early Intervention/Infant & Toddler Connection of Virginia.  He qualified for speech therapy, and that started up in January.  A speech therapist came every other week.  We also received visits from an “educator.”  It was pitched something like this, “We’ll have a speech therapist come in, and we’ll also have an educator come once a week.  She’ll do some speech and play activities.  It’ll be like preschool.”

The boy has made some big strides this summer.  But he’s still not putting words together.  No “Blue cup.”  No “Me tired.”  None of that stuff.  It’s still really just the ends of words.  Cat is “at.”  Flag is “ag.”  So on an so forth.  Because he’s pushing three (that’s when toddlers age out of the early intervention program and into the local school system here in VA), it was time for another evaluation.

This evaluation took place this summer.  This evaluation did not go well.  The boy cooperated for about 15 minutes, and then flipped his… you know.  It has been told that the boy crawled under a table and yelled clear as day, “GO AWAY!” to the evaluators.  The results of this evaluation:  “Significant developmental and cognitive delays.  He qualifies for preschool under autism.”

Wait.  What?

What does that mean?  How do you get all of that from an evaluation that went south after 15 minutes?  The boy is supposed to go to best private schools and become a master of the universe.  “Significant developmental and cognitive delays” will not look good on the résumé.

That was about six weeks ago, and here we are.  The Lightning McQueen backpack is packed.  The boy has his glue sticks and jumbo crayons.  I haven’t met his teacher.  I haven’t observed any of the classes at the school (they operate during a regular school year, so there were no classes this summer).  I’m sending my kid off into the unknown, and I’m not comfortable with that seeing as how most of the world is run by incompetents.

Are you asking, “Why are you sending your kid off to this place?”  Good lord, are you still reading?

There are a couple of things that put my mom gut (the instinctual one, not the paunchy belly) at ease.  In November 2008, I waited in a very long line in this school to vote in the presidential election.  I looked at all of the art work in the hallways,  I peeked in the empty classroom windows, and I thought, “Yes. I would consider this as an option for my son.”  This summer, after the evaluation that went bad, my husband and I went into the school for the boy’s IEP meeting.  As we were leaving, a little boy around my son’s age walked down the hallway to his individual speech therapy session with a plastic dinosaur under each arm.  He didn’t walk with apprehension.  He walked with his therapist like he was walking with a friend.

I have a feeling that my boy is going to be just fine at school.  I’m the one who will have the hardest time adjusting.