As much as we all love online learning and utilizing technology in the classroom for the benefit of our students, there comes a time when the best way to teach a subject is to get your hands dirty and just make something.
This is even more true for those of us who like to learn via visual or tactical methods. These are the people who work well with their hands and like to have tangible projects in front of them, rather than abstract things on an LCD screen.
Sometimes I feel the same way. Since most of the work I do is online or at least on a computer, I get the occasional urge to actually create something, a brand new object in the real world. That’s what the three websites I’m showing you in this article are all about: making things.
Sites for the DIY Student
1. MAKE Magazine
Make magazine, in short, focuses on do-it-yourself (DIY) projects involving computers, electronics, robotics, metalworking, and woodworking. It’s only published four times per year, which is good because it gives you enough time to work on the projects at your own pace, but waiting for the next awesome issue to come in the mail can be painful sometimes!
Fortunately, their website is updated pretty often with new stories and DIY projects, so be sure to check it out on a regular basis. Projects that DIY students would enjoy include simple electronics, science projects, and even some futuristic robotics creations. For example, here’s a project of moderate difficulty where students can build and launch a “heli-rocket” with less than $5 worth of materials.
The beauty and simplicity of this website is all in the name: it shows you how stuff works. Their articles span the entire spectrum of complexity, from showing you how something as simple as a compass works to explaining how email messages work.
Also be sure to take a look at the different podcasts and blogs they offer. With titles like “The Coolest Stuff on the Planet” and “How-to Stuff”, you can’t go wrong here. They also have a great videos section as well as a maps site that work well for visual learners.
Essentially, Instructables is like a YouTube for DIY projects: users can create and upload instructions, and then other users can comment on and rate those tutorials. While tutorials targeted at students can be harder to find than on some of the other sites, Instructables is still a great resource for inspiration and lesson plan ideas.
A couple of examples of good projects for DIY students would be the mousetrap-powered car (for the younger kids) and the Lego USB drive (for older kids). One of the cooler things you could do, however, is have your students create their own projects and submit them to one of the many contests that Instructables runs. Right now there are eight open contests, and there are sure to be more in the future!
Hopefully you can use the sites I’ve shown today to find some awesome projects for your hands-on DIY students! As a bonus, teachers can check out Classroom DIY, a site that has tons of crafty projects teachers can do to improve their classroom.
How do you help inspire DIY students? Let us know in the comments which projects you’ve used before and how they went!
Image courtesy of Flickr, kennymatic