Maker Space and Los Altos

A few weeks ago we went to an open house for a Maker Space being set up at Barron Park Elementary.

The Robotics Club from Gunn High School brought their ball throwing robot. Here Nathan returns the ball to the robot.Then the robot threw the ball into the waiting arms of herds of children.

Sam played very intently with the batteries, motors, and alligator clips, and was very proud of himself when he get the motor to run.

Nathan and Sam loved the Snap Circuits set-up, especially the fan that can be launched into the air. For days after this, they both played enthusiastically with their Snap Circuits kits at home. Sam, in particular, was interested in experimenting with different ways of hooking up his cirucits to see what worked and what didn't.

Nathan spent almost the entire time playing with the fan launcher.

Sam loved the puppet-making station.

Sam and Ryan watching Nathan launch his fan.

They had a big touch screen set up with Google Maps on it. Sam really enjoyed investigating it, though at times the touch-screen interface frustrated him a bit.

Last week, we all went to see Nathan’s class and the other two third grade classes perform after a two week session of “Playing with Poetry” with a teaching artist from TheatreWorks. Nathan’s class demonstrated a clapping warmup exercise and then performed the poem “Boom the Thunder Dragon.” It was a really fun performance. Sam in particular got really into it. I think Ryan got a video, but I didn’t get any pictures because it was too difficult with Sam on my lap. I brought flowers to give to Nathan for opening night (which, in this case, was also closing night). He was gratifying pleased with them. I wish I had also bought a small bouquet for Sam, since he was disappointed, but Nathan very nicely gave a couple of his flowers to Sam.

Today we had a very exciting day of adventure in Los Altos with Sara and Isaac. First we went to Train Day at the Los Altos History Museum. They have a lot of model train sets set up and if you get your ticket punched at all the exhibits, you can enter a drawing to win a train-themed gift basket. Wish us luck!

Nathan, Sam, and Isaac enjoy the trains.

Sam tried talking to the Thomas train, then concluded that "Maybe he doesn't talk" when Thomas didn't answer him.

One of the biggest hits of the train show was the balloons being given out by the people there to promote train safety.

The balloons made great farting noises when released.

And they're great for bapping people with. Sam later popped his balloon, but the nice train safety lady gave him another one.

As we were leaving the train day, while Ryan was getting the boys into the car, I stepped away to load some toys into Sara’s car that we were giving her to give to Isaac’s classroom. While I was gone, they convinced Ryan to let Nathan move out of car seat and to let Sam move into Nathan’s big boy, backless car seat. When I saw, I started to cry because I had been gone for 30 seconds and they somehow grew up while I was away! They were very amused that I cried. Nathan pointed out that I was acting like Ryan’s mom in the My Weird School Daze books (Mrs. Dole is Out of Control.)

Then we went to Area 151, where Nathan and Sam both did very well at SkeeBall and we all played a really fun video game about harpooning fish. Nathan and Sam both traded in some of their tickets for those rubber yoyos, both which broke within an hour and a half.

We walked from Area 151 to the pizza store for lunch, where we met Marcella and Noah. On the way, we discovered that Los Altos was holding a Corvette show, so the streets were lined with exciting cars. Sam decided that they were all race cars and that he might drive one when he grew up but that he didn’t want to race. One of the cars even had a Batman symbol painted on it and another had a little Batman doll suction cupped to the hood. Sam also went down the line of cars deciding which colors he would need to use to draw each one.

After pizza, we went to Helix, where we had seen on a sign that they were doing a demo of a heart dissection. Noah walked into the room and almost immediately turned around and left. Nathan was interested and stayed for a little bit, even putting on an extra small lab glove so he could feel the heart. But then he noticed that Noah was gone and left. Sam, on the other hand, stayed for a long time. He, too, put on a little tiny glove and felt the heart and he enjoyed looking at the heart through a magnifying glass. Then he sat and paid carefully attention to the lecturer talking about valves and aortae and ventricles. For a while there was another little girl there, but she had to leave early, so for quite a while it was just a couple of college-age Exploratorium interns, Sam, and me.

I took three photos of the boys at the dissection. In all three photos, one or the other of they boys was yawning. It was clearly a tiring day. As Ryan pointed out, the one where Nathan is yawning is probably the more accurate representation.

Then we stopped at Baskin Robbins for ice cream and then went to the hobby shop to race slot cars.

At first Sam didn't want to play.

But once he was persuaded to try, he did a great job.

So basically we had the most fun day that Los Altos ever has to offer. Then we went home, called Grandma and Gramps, and watched MST3K’s Godzilla vs. Megalon.

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