Monday, January 14, 2013

Create a Hook, Make It Fun

This month, we are studying Rocketry in our Troop meetings. Well, OK, we are actually studying Space Exploration, but really, when you get right down to it, we're going to go and shoot off rockets. Shooting off rockets sounds a whole lot cooler than "studying Space Exploration". The neat thing is that, to do the former, they are going to need to learn a bit about the latter.

Doesn't it seem like things go much smoother when you have a genuine "hook" you can use to make something fun? I remember a few years ago when we had a "Emergency Preparedness" weekend. When you put it that way, it sounds so, well, bookish. to get people more interested, we named it the "Worst Case Scenario" weekend, and based the theme of the weekend on the now legendary books of the same name. Talking about how to deal with emergencies is OK, and enough to get a badge out of the deal (which, let's face it, is the main draw for a lot of these events), but when you take a Scout uniform, stuff it with "human analog" of some kind, and launch it from a height to see how much damage it takes when it falls into a dumpster of differing materials, now that gets a reaction!

Still, there are some neat little accidents that happen in the areas of "dry book learning" that can really fire the imagination, or at least, I thought they could. One of the requirements for Space Exploration is to make a trading card of a "Space Pioneer". Tell me who they were, what they are famous for, and include a picture of them. I fully expect to get flooded with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren, so I decided to issue a challenge... I asked them to pick some less familiar subjects, and I also told them they had the whole of written history to examine, and I'd accept anything provided they did some real research on the person in question. Tonight, I will see what they come up with. Of course, I primed the pump a little, and said I'd be thrilled if someone could give me trading cards for "Thales of Miletus" or "Hypatia of Alexandria". Why these names? Because I honestly don't think they would discover them unless I prodded them... and that's why I'm not putting links here... if you want to find out about them, go do so (I suspect a lot of you already know about them, but hey, some may not).

My whole point to this is, yes, I'm excited that we are studying and talking about Space Exploration and what has led us to this point, but really, what I want to do is build rockets and shoot them into the sky... which as you can see below, I'm ready to do :). When we test, think of ways that you can get beyond the perhaps mundane steps, and figure out ways that you can make it genuinely fun, even the most typical things that you have to do. It will give you a great mental challenge, and hey, you might learn something totally unexpected in the process... and that's awesome when that happens!

Have rockets, want to travel!!!

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