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Summer Geek Camp

June 7, 2011

We’re into our second week of summer vacation here. It’s lovely. I still wake up between 4:00 and 5:00 (that’s not the lovely part, although the quiet time ain’t too shabby). I get a couple hours of gardening in, the kids play, we clean the house, we do geek camp. We swim. We read. We veg on a lovely diet of sci-fi. It’s good.

The areas we’re looking at this summer for our geek camp involve science and math. I’ve had Michael Shermer and Arthur Benjamin’sSecrets of Mental Math so I pulled that off the bookshelf to do with Lily. Then I realized the Teaching Company has a 12 lecture course by Arthur Benjamin on sale for 40 bucks, so we downloaded the course, and all three kids gathered around the tv to watch and were entranced. Rosie loves numbers so she filled sheets of paper with numbers and then made patterns. Lil is absolutely hooked, finally past the school year’s drain of any love of math, all in a thirty minute lecture. And Bobby, for the first time ever, realized that math was accessible, really truly accessible. Math should be taught this way in schools. It’s ridiculous that it isn’t.

Below is one of Benjamin’s TED talks:

We’re also doing the Teaching Company’s course on the night sky and one on communication. Bobby’s found the communication one so interesting because it’s foreign to the way he experiences it that he’s watching the lectures over again before we proceed onto the next one.

And we’re all appreciating the Night Sky course; if the kids learn the material and are really interested in seeing the night sky closer, we’ve promised a telescope when we’re done with the course.

We seem to have a healthy balance between activities: time to learn, time to play, time to move, time to just do what each of us wants.  Much of the activities are shared, with all of us together for most of the day/evening. It’s not heavily regimented, but we all like patterns and organization, an order to the day, although there is enough variation and room for spontaneous decisions so that we don’t get stuck in a rut or even worse a funk when the order is changed.

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