Learning By Shipping – A Homeschool Adventure

Learning By Shipping

I like the phrase “Learning By Shipping” because that’s the experimentation, exploration, and completion product cycle that I’ve enjoyed for much of my life. It’s also a great name for Steven Sinofsky’s blog.

Creative Kids and maker faire

How does “Learning By Shipping” apply to homeschool? I’ve realized that project-based self-directed learning is one of my favorites, and it turns out my children love it too. Earlier this year, Jonathan, my 16-year-old son and I decided to apply to the Bay Area Maker Faire. Jonathan invented Uber Maze, and together we made a plan, tweaked it, and gave the Maker Faire a try. Could Jonathan have a credible entry that would be accepted? Who knew, but we tried. We were blown away when we were accepted into the Maker Faire. We were even more blown away by the positive response to our Uber Maze Experience exhibit which combined art, math, and technology. The exhibit was very busy with all ages stopping by to enjoy the experience.

Self-Directed Learning in 1981

When I was 16 years old, a crazy idea occurred: publish a video game by first entering Byte Magazine’s video game programming contest. The first prize was $500! Would the entry be credible? Wanting to try, I would do whatever it took, learning whatever needed to make an “A” title, and be a published author. My computer was the Radio Shack TRS-80. After starting with BASIC, which was too slow and using assembly language was the next step. After learning the concepts of Apple II Logo and turtle graphics, I experimented with it by reproducing it on the TRS-80 in assembler. It was still too slow! Finally inventing a high-speed sprite engine allowed “A” title speed for my game! The process of experimenting and moving towards a goal paid off. The deadline for the Byte Contest came and was missed, but Bounceoids was finally published as the first of many software projects.

In 2017, when Jonathan started homeschooling and Uber Maze became a focus for him, I finally realized that project-based self-directed learning was what I experienced when I was his age and it’s what our children needed too.

Self-Directed Learning Today

The Maker Faire led to an invitation from the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose for Jonathan and the Uber Maze Team to be in the special “Meet the Artist” Event on November 20th, 2018!

Children’s Discovery Museum Event

Building on the momentum and learning from the Maker Faire experience, Jonathan has designed, planned, and produced these amazing creations that will be shown at the museum:

  • A worldwide premiere of “The Uber Maze Movie”, an 18-minute stop-motion animation of mazes being created and introducing a character called ‘Ink’ featured in his first mobile and tablet app. See teaser video.
  • All 18 minutes of “The Uber Maze Movie” contains an original soundtrack of Maze Music and Ink’s Jingles composed by Jonathan, David, Sophia, and Christine (mom)
  • An exhibit of fine art mazes, including an in-progress demonstration, 4-foot by 4-foot maze that has 40 hours of work on it already
  • A world premiere of the Uber Maze App featuring the adorable character Ink, suitable for all ages
  • Jonathan created a paper based Maze Playbook Sampler that he is giving out for free
  • He will be selling his original t-shirt called “The Unraveling”
  • Jonathan created a window mural design only shown this month at the Children’s Discovery Museum

Jonathan is joined by his fabulous multi-talented Uber Maze™ team – his supportive family: brother, sister, mom, and dad.

Please come and join us on November 20th at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose.

By Bob Pappas (Jonathan’s dad)