When my family recently was visiting some friends for dinner, their daughter kept interrupting our conversation to ask, “Hey Dad! Can we do a garage creative?” The dad in question, Kyle Hunter, is the afterschool coordinator, science stage manager, and educator at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This means that he is what the kids refer to as a “super cool science guy” so I knew that garage creatives must be something super cool and science-y. I was right!
The Hunters have turned their two-car garage into a creative laboratory for their two young daughters and other neighborhood kids. Here, they take part in art projects and household science experiments called Garage Creatives, all chronicled on their blog.
While Garage Creatives take place outside of school walls, Hunter hopes that teachers will see the blog and bring the ideas and, more importantly, the Garage Creative spirit into schools and afterschool programs. Below, Hunter explains in his own words why this project is so important to him and his message to teachers.
What was the inspiration behind creating Garage Creatives? I think the first time I saw kids being creatively starved was when I was working in Helena. I was teaching a summer class and my students were building boats and they asked what supplies they could use. I told them to look into my “closet of awesomeness”, which had straws, wine corks, Pringles cans, coffee filters, tape… and they said, “wait, we can use all of this!?” That took me back and they made amazing boats! More recently, this summer my daughter came home from Kindergarten with the same mind set as my previous students. I have spent my career in informal education and have learned which experiments are awesome and which aren’t. I want to share the awesome ones with my daughters while encouraging their creativity. I started the blog with the hopes that people would find it helpful and maybe do some of the experiments with their kids.
What message do you hope to send to teachers? If I could send one message to teachers, as a teacher and parent I would say, “Please do not forget they are kids who love to learn. Please have fun with them and help them keep this love of learning alive by encouraging them to think outside the box and not worry about a test!”
What advice do you have for public school educators regarding science education? Set up a classroom Scrap Exchange! Encouraging students to save random pieces of “garbage”, old broken toys, and anything else they happen to come across (straws, ketchup packets, old water bottles, toilet paper tubes, etc) all of these are great and serve many, many uses in the minds of children!