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DIY.org – Creative Challenges
Pros: Patches motivate kids and get them thinking about brand-new skills.
Cons: Not all projects are well-explained, and some may confuse kids.
Bottom Line: Fabulous way for kids to get skills and share their projects digitally.
The DIY.org – Creative Challenges app is a virtual treasure trove of craft, activity, and practical (or sometimes impractically fun) skill-building ideas. Teachers can simply use this app to get ideas for in-class crafts related to current classroom subjects or unit studies. From art to computer science, biology to sports, there's something about almost anything one can think of on DIY.
If teachers use this app and its companion website in the classroom as a class, the entire class can earn badges together on one account, and teachers can do all the posting. If individual students are allowed to post and earn badges separately, teachers or parents will receive email reports (to whatever email address is used for initial account approval) for each student's posts and feedback. As a result, teachers should probably get parental approval before allowing kids to post individually on this app/site (since it is a public -- albeit well-moderated and intended for kid users -- site that interfaces with other DIY sites) and offer tips to kids on smart posting, how to tweak projects to fit appropriate categories to earn patches, and more.
DIY.org – Creative Challenges is the companion app of the crafty, creative how-to website DIY. When kids post their projects, they can get feedback from other users and earn patches for a creative variety of skills categories: animator, astronomer, athlete, cardboarder, detective, meteorologist, and more than 100 others. The website and app are intended for kids who want to learn new DIY skills and create and share their own DIY projects. DIY the app makes it super easy for kids to take images and post them on the site, which is central to full participation in the DIY community. Kids who post three projects in any area of unique skill -- from biologist to backyard farmer, Minecraft block-builder to woodworker -- earn a scouting-like patch that is posted at the top of their account page. Or kids can just search for or browse interesting projects, large and small, such as a duct-tape wallet or making a pond in the backyard, and view photos and videos from third-party sites or other users.
Parents or teachers who approve kids' participation in the community can follow progress on a dashboard and receive notices from DIY about anything the kids post to the site. All posts and comments are moderated by the DIY staff. The website and app can work independently or combine together to form a unique DIY skills community geared toward kids.
Kids can learn about following directions, sharing project information -- including photos and videos -- and asking questions on the go via mobile technology. All these combine to make DIY.org – Creative Challenges projects not only doable, but creative and (mostly) easy. DIY's app and website both encourage kids to embrace and build on their natural interests and hobbies and learn new skills based on the sets of skills grouped into patches.
This highly engaging app helps kids learn by encouraging them to present their projects to others, to build on what they've learned by completing at least three projects in each category to earn a patch, and to comment on and ask questions about other kids' projects. Feedback provided by the adult DIY team helps kids know if they're on the right track to earn a patch. Some demonstration information is more helpful and instructive than others, but at the very least, videos and photos provide an enormous amount of inspiration. By following directions meticulously and posting their own directions carefully, kids can also learn how tech skills and communication skills combine to help share information.