April 23, 2016 CHN EXPOsure


Your information source for EXPO 2016
June 23 – 26, 2016

2016 CHN Family Expo
Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Conference Center
601 W McKinley Ave
Pomona, CA 91768

Presented by
California Homeschool Network





The Tinker House at CHN Family Expo
by Bequi Howarth
When my kids were younger I noticed that at homeschool conventions there was this gap in activities that a small but, none the less, important group of people fell through.  There were lots of great activities to entertain the younger kids and whole rooms and activity plans just for teens but, there was this small segment of the population that felt too old to do the “baby stuff” but, weren’t yet mature enough to join the teens.  They’re often fondly referred to as tweens, I’m talking about the 11 – 13 year old set.  As my oldest child neared this age I decided that I wanted to fill that gap and create a space just for them and thus the Tween Room came into being.Coming up with things for the Tweens to do was a lot of fun and some of the activities became so popular that each year I was asked to open more and more of them up to all ages. These days my youngest is a fully fledged teen and I hardly see him during the Family Expo weekend but, I still wanted to provide a place and activities for that small but important segment of the population while at the same time welcoming  explorers of all ages.

My 5 years of organizing  Mini Maker Faires and lots of time being around people who are makers has been inspiring and has nurtured a love of tinkering within me.  Last summer I took an online class through the Exploratorium in San Francisco called Tinkering 101, the projects were fun and engaging and I am really excited to share some of them with the tweens.  A few of the projects and activities will be easily accessible to younger kids like the Squishy Circuits, Scribblebots and marble wall. Although the marble wall has a twist that the tweens will appreciate, one of the ramps, when used with metal marbles, will complete an electric circuit that will turn on a light at the top of the wall.  Other activities will be geared more towards kids who have patience, better critical thinking skills and more developed fine motor skills. Learn to Solder, Sewn Circuits and Absurdist Automata are examples of such activities.  Younger kids are welcome to these activities but, they need to have an adult along with them to help as there will not be any extra volunteers in the Tinker House for one-on-one attention.

The goals of the Tinker House are to introduce tweens to tinkering, playing with ideas, thinking outside the box, merging technology and art, and learning about electricity while at the same time discovering how to use it in novel ways.  The tween years are perfect for this kind of exploration.  They have the patience and fine motor skills of older kids but, they still have the playfulness and simple curiosity of the young.
I also want parents to see that much fun and learning can be had with simple, inexpensive materials. One of my favorites is the Circuit Modules.  To create this set I purchased some battery holders, small lights and wires with alligator clips on the ends. Then I found cheap toys at the dollar store and thrift stores and hacked into them and used the alligator clips to connect the motors and moving parts to batteries.  Kids (and adults like me!) can learn about electricity and circuits and at the same time engage in the really fun activity of taking apart of toys. We can go even simpler than that and take an AA battery and a piece of copper wire and create a little motor and, voila, you have a kinetic art piece.

There are many great people providing many great activities for adults, kids and teens at the CHN Family Expo, I’m happy to be the one providing something for that small but important segment, the tweens.

Be sure to visit Bequi and our wonderful Tweens at EXPO!

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