Website Review

DIY

Design, build, and share new things offline and online

  • The homepage displays trending projects, featured challenges, and some member news.

  • Kids can find interesting things to do among the assortment of skills and related challenges.

  • Skills pages list challenges and suggested materials, display examples from DIY-ers or third parties, and invite kids to submit completed projects.

  • Certain challenges require an adult to assist or purchase materials, for example a model rocket kit.

  • Commenting tools allow kids to give compliments, ask questions, or make suggestions.

Review
Pros: A good cross-section of challenges means most kids will find something interesting to do.
Cons: Hands-on projects often require an adult's assistance -- and wallet.
Bottom Line: DIY motivates kids to tackle a wide range of problems with independent and scientific thinking.
Learning Scores
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Positive peer pressure attracts kids to the site: "If they can do it, I can, too!" Attractive badges for completed skills motivate kids to earn as many as possible. It's a snap to find, view, and share projects.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

DIY's challenges prompt kids to use scientific inquiry to build, design, or code their way through a challenge. They're empowered as they try new things, observe, troubleshoot, and revise their ideas.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Kids get little help besides what's posted by other users, ranging from a single photo to a "how-to" video. The ability to share projects and comment or ask questions introduces kids to the concept of a scientific community.

Our Review
What's It Like?

In DIY, kids use everyday materials to complete challenges in various skill areas. After an adult approves their membership, kids create a unique login and design an avatar. They start exploring more than 50 skills on the homepage, where popular topics are listed along with a featured challenge and news about who's earned a new badge. Some skills involve the outdoors (Gardener, Entomologist, Forager), and others focus on the indoors (Baker, Front End Developer, Stitcher). Some encourage problem-solving (Industrial Designer, Mechanical Engineer), and some are just for fun (Dancer, Prankster, Sound Effects Wizard).

At the top of each skill page is a short list of materials to have on hand, but it doesn't specify when to use them. In most cases, an adult will need to help secure materials and space for projects and supervise their progress. For example, kids can probably build an indoor fort (Fort Builder) on their own, but most won't know how to repair a bicycle tube (Bike Mechanic). Also, though DIY encourages a creative approach to solving problems, certain tasks really do require specific steps for safety reasons. Would you want your students harvesting honey (Beekeeper) or using a soldering iron (Circuit Bender) on their own? For help with challenges, kids can check out the posts by other DIY-ers who have solved challenges, or some of the third-party videos that have more "how to" info.

Is It Good For Learning?

Kids must practice resourcefulness and utilize their knowledge to complete the skills. It's easy to find something that interests them when there are even Minecraft challenges. They can start small or go big, and step out of their comfort zone with unfamiliar tasks. Either way, they're building skills and confidence, and the challenges are deliberately brief, as kids are meant to figure them out themselves.

Work is rewarded. Kids must post a picture or video of a completed challenge, and, when they complete three challenges under one skill, they earn an online patch (real patches are coming soon). All submitted projects fall under terms of Creative Commons, allowing other users (and DIY) to copy, distribute, and transmit the work and adapt it for commercial uses as long as it's attributed.

How Can Teachers Use It?

DIY can be an online or offline tool to engage kids in creative problem-solving and skills-building through activities that let them make and build things, and the site encourages accountability for creative work. For example, the site asks them to share things they make and not to share other stuff like personal photos or things they didn't make. Commenting tools also keep kids accountable when, for example, they're asked, "How did you do that?" Other social tools include a portfolio page to upload and display projects and patches (the more, the better, of course) and the ability to follow other kids on the site.

A dashboard allows teachers to track several kids' activities at once.

This review of DIY was written by

Field Notes
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Margaret A P. The Episcopal Academy Newtown Square, PA

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Jim T. The Harley School Rochester, NY
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