Did you have pink LEGOs as a kid with instructions on exactly how to build a princess castle? Me, neither. So it amazes me that regardless of the color or intended instructions, my girls want to build things. Each morning before school they create the “Tallest Tower Ever!”, or a cave, or at least hiding place for their toy ponies and dinosaurs. It is great! I want to keep their imagination alive.
As the mother of two young girls, I feel quite a responsibility to raise them to become caring, responsible and powerful women. But what mother doesn’t?
But when it comes to education, this can be a challenge. I am a mom who embraced a liberal arts education and the value of learning to think outside of the box. But I also I understand the value of math and science, of learning to program computers and build things – and how those skills impact the opportunities my daughters have in the future.
I want to help my girls find a balance between time-tested liberal arts disciplines and emerging technologies. The big question here is how?
I want to encourage my girls to be creative in their own way. It’s important that I provide them with time and space to independently create, which is why our house is full of art supplies, books and all sorts of other tools for exploration and building. Yes, this makes for a messy house, and it would be much easier to just let them watch TV (and we do that sometimes as well). But I want them to learn how to be themselves and how to create.
Like all parents, I just want the best for my children. I read constantly about the struggles that teachers face in today’s classroom and the value of integrating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) into our children’s lives. I want to support my girls and our teachers in every way possible, but where can moms like me find the resources to do this outside of a typical school day?
I think back to the teachers who encouraged me the most. Yes, I had some very encouraging and supportive science and math teachers who were passionate about their disciplines. They reached out to me, helped answer my questions and show me that I was actually very good at science and math. They inspired me to see how creative the disciplines could be. But I also remember having to make the choice between advanced physics and another elective. This was not a real choice where I could try something and decide if I liked it, but if I didn’t that would be ok, too. My choice was easy. I was told that if I took advanced physics I would fail because there were no girls in the class and those who tried it failed. What type of message was this? If I wanted to go to college I could not possibly fail a class – risking my GPA and scholarship money. This is definitely not the choice I want my girls to have to make. I want them to have an opportunity to try their hand at the sciences without the fear of a bad grade. I want them to look at the world, ask questions and decide that yes, they are capable of coming up with a solution.
Northern Kentucky might have found a solution to that problem, however – and I have been lucky enough to be part of finding it.
Leadership Northern Kentucky’s Class of 2015 has partnered with Boone County Schools to open the NKY Makerspace. The facility will provide all children – girls and boys – a place to learn by doing. It’s a space where kids can experiment with everything from 3D printers to hammer and nails, under the philosophy that everyone can learn by having fun. We want to inspire kids to dream, think and create.
Located at 3300 Barneys Road in Burlington, the facility will open Friday, April 17. It will be operated by Boone County Schools, and activities will promote STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) education – and help kids learn to think beyond a test or grade. They’ll learn to think for themselves and create new things. We hope we’ve created a model that can be replicated throughout the entire region – and I can’t wait to take my girls there.
Want to know more? Visit www.facebook.com/nkymakerspace.
Carla Landon is a marketing consultant, NKY Forum Board Chair and LNK Class of 2015 member. In her free time she loves good music and dancing around the house with her two young girls.