Over the last year, Bennett Day School’s Special Projects Coordinator & Early Childhood Tinkering and Engineering Sciences Teacher, Frances Judd, worked with PK-4th grade students to co-design and develop the Osmo Kaleidoscope app. Now available for download on the App Store, this hands-on application lets children design and create beautiful kaleidoscope images with everyday objects, toys, art materials, or seasonal items from nature.
At Bennett Day School, we’re dedicated to creating new tools that encourage learning through play. In our school’s Reggio Emilia-inspired learning spaces, it is not uncommon to find students involved in tangible investigations with mirrors and reflective surfaces as they explore the mathematical and scientific underpinnings of symmetry. This type of exploration inspired the Osmo Kaleidoscope App project that began in the Fall of 2018, when each Bennett Day School classroom was given a set of old-fashioned kaleidoscopes to explore.
In the new school year ahead, Bennett Day students will continue to use our sets of Osmo Bases to explore the Osmo Kaleidoscope app. For other interested classrooms or households with an Osmo setup, here are 7 STEM/STEAM-focused ideas for hands-on explorations with everyday objects:
1) Foodie Fun. Those busy moments when kiddos are waiting for mealtime are perfect opportunities to offer Osmo Kaleidoscope as a tool for exploring colorful linens, fresh fruits/veggies, or an array of plastic measuring spoons.
2) Naturally Neat. Some of the app’s stencil-shapes (such as a butterfly, leaf, clover, acorn, daisy, and zinnia) are especially beloved for children who like to collect and study little items found in nature.
3) Tool Time. Many classrooms, STEM Labs, maker-spaces, and households have various tools, rulers, legos, or construction toys that are just right for open-ended explorations of symmetry in kaleidoscope form. Here you can see that our robot-stencil uses a mosaic of mini-kaleidoscopes.
"For learners of any age, there is true value in experiences that help us to visualize mathematics, and certainly exploring patterns, geometry, and symmetry is part of that work," says Frances Judd, the Osmo Kaleidoscope project leader. "Those of us in STEM/STEAM education often search for ways to help our students notice math/science connections to the arts. When leading the co-design team, with innovative students and faculty at Bennett Day School, it was valuable to think in terms of these types of artistic and scientific connections."
4) Party Play. Children’s birthday parties, holiday celebrations, and family events often come with small trinkets or keepsakes that can personalize and enliven these STEM/STEAM explorations.
5) Letter Learning. Alphabet letters and numbers are important components of learning materials. Surprising discoveries always happen when using numerical playing cards, dice, or ABC scrabble pieces. Dual onscreen slider-bars can increase or decrease the number of segments in your design.
6) Crafty Creations. We find that young artists who are passionate about creative activities such as bead-stringing, sewing, or drawing really love exploring this new use for their favorite arts & crafts materials!
7) Space Symmetry. For those who can’t find enough uses for outer-space action figures or sports toys, Osmo Kaleidoscope is a fun place to make new discoveries. If your children love to line-up neat rows of tiny race cars, motorcycles, or spaceships, we hope they also become passionate about the structure and order found in their symmetrical designs!
Our mission with the Osmo Kaleidoscope App project is to welcome this new generation of children into the world of STEM/STEAM exploration, digital design, and app development, and use methods that are relevant, forward-thinking, and helpful to the broader community outside of our school walls.
Now go have fun exploring!