Unprescribed and Authentically Learning, Beyond a Test

The new foam animatronic hand

The new foam animatronic hand

On weekends and non-school days, I wait on my nephew’s facetime calls. There is typically a new contraption of some sort that he has designed on his path to creating very intricately designed puppets. Today’s facetime was an “animatronic” hand crafted with foam, wooden sticks and wire. If only I could’ve recorded his excitement as he clicked the wooden sticks between his fingers forcing this fingers of his new foam hand to move!

The "eyelid" mechanism

The “eyelid” mechanism

This is the puppet that will also have eye lids that open or close as designed by Braeden too.

Braeden is creating things because he is constantly on a mission to learn. Through youtube, google search and now pinterest…this kid is using his own natural yet nourished “wonder” to evolve within his own creations. School work is what he is required to do and like many kids, he hates it. He does it in order to get to the learning that he loves.

I can’t think of a single test prep worksheet that can possibly give him the skills that he is learning through his own desires. No, there won’t be a puppetry academy or even a career in designing puppets but there could be a path towards engineering. There could be some benefit to understanding research and knowing how to decipher the validity of sources. There could be some benefit to his application of mathematics in terms of measurement, proportion and problem solving. There could be some usefulness to his creative use of google docs to collaborate with his cousins on script writing. His developing of videos may just also come in handy and he is intent on not only teaching the world how to make what he makes but also in entertaining kids just as he is entertained.

It’s authentic learning at its finest.


He will be assigned a solar system to create. He’ll spend a month planning, designing and building it outside of school. He’ll even be invited to showcase his work along side other student created projects. While his project is on display, many will question whether or not he did it because they don’t know him. They don’t get the facetime calls. They don’t watch him as he researches, bookmarks, plans and creates with the kind of joy that is completely indescribable. There’s not a worksheet on the planet that can capture learning in this way.

It’s interesting that the creations of an inquisitive 9 year old tell us much more about who he is and what he knows than any answer that he may ever bubble in.

The design plans from the rocket made for his solar system

The design plans from the rocket made for his solar system



Comments 2

  1. Love this….I just put something on my blog but was not nearly so articulate….Well done! Great website too!

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