Playing with the Sun

Designed for children and families, Playing with the Sun invites learners to follow their curiosity and build something powered by solar, wind, or muscles. In the process they develop their understanding of alternative energy sources and their ability to create with them.

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Playing with the Sun Construction Kit

Library, museum, and school educators can use the Playing with the Sun construction kit to offer learners a variety of activities in which they build something unique, based on their interests.

The Playing with the Sun construction kit is an open-source project under a Creative Commons License, which means that you can [build one yourself][link to instructable] and contribute new activities, designs and ideas.

Activities

Playing with the Sun activities are tinkering activities, which means they are designed to enable learners to build whatever they can imagine with a carefully curated set of play materials within a carefully designed set of constraints.

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Pedagogy

What is worth knowing for today and tomorrow?

Project Zero’s David Perkins asks this central question about education: What is worth knowing for today and tomorrow? With the world experiencing devastating heat waves, unprecedented wildfires, draughts, and super storms, and aware that the climate crisis will only continue to grow, our answer is that it is worth promoting:

What do we mean by sensitivity to sustainable sources of energy? Consider the sailor and their relationship to the wind. A love of efficiency is built into the aesthetics of sailing. Beautiful sailing is to skillfully respond to the wind as it is, moment by moment. We believe this careful attention makes possible a respect, even reverence, for the wind, and by extension nature itself.

Consider the petrol-fueled powerboat driver who recognizes the high price of fossil fuels and decides to take up sailing. Some things are the same. But whereas before he could ignore all but the strongest winds, now a different kind of attention and relationship to nature is required. To be sure this relationship asks more of him, but he knows from speaking with other sailors that it is not without its rewards.

Today we must all learn how to be more like sailors, even if we never plan to set foot in a boat. Our aim is to create the conditions for people to explore and invent new kinds of relationships to sustainable energy that are similar to that of the sailor. We believe that developing these sensitivities as part of a community of practice will better position people to understand and be creative with the question of how to live sustainably.

Perkins also asks, “Where and how does learning thrive?” Regarding an understanding and ability to work together to address climate change, our answer involves three features of teaching and learning:

Continue reading in the Playing with the Sun manifesto...

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About

Playing with the Sun was conceived byAmos Blanton and Ben Mardell, and is part of Amos' PhD work supported by Aarhus Public Libraries and the Experimenting, Experiencing, Reflecting project. The construction kit is being developed with Mark Moore (https://moore.dk/). The project is being driven by the Teknologiforståelse team at Dokk1 Library in Aarhus Biblioteket, Aarhus Denmark, including: Sidsel Bech-Petersen, Jane Kunze, Henrik Viking Hansen, Mathias Kær Helge, and Sara Petrat-Melin.