When the country’s biggest celebration of hands-on learning comes to Knoxville later this month, local parents and children of all ages will be able to try hundreds of free events and classes.
But whether they opt to learn origami or try their hands at gardening or discover the science behind flying paper airplanes, cooking tortillas or making birdfeeders out of recycled objects, the result will be the same: After 12 challenging months of pandemic-impacted schooling, learning will be fun for everyone.
The Remake Learning Days festival was founded in Pittsburgh in 2016 and has grown to include 17 regions of the country, including Knoxville and Chattanooga. It celebrates innovative, hands-on learning and helps families discover educational resources in their community.
Remake Learning Days events also help students make a connection between hands-on learning they enjoy and potential careers they can pursue, something Boyd Hestand appreciates.
Hestand works as a student services coordinator at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) in Knoxville, where they train welders, practical nurses, diesel mechanics, cosmetologists and more.
“Everything we do is hands-on learning. That’s really where we hang our hat,” says Hestand. As an organizer of Remake Learning Days events in the region, he’s looking forward to showing families and students how hands-on learning can be applied in vocational training.
The many events happening at TCAT will include Lava in a Bottle, where students in grades 3 through 12 will discover the science behind creating their own lava lamp in a bottle. And students of all ages can use yarn, string, rope and ribbon to create a woven pattern on a custom weaving wall at TCAT.
Along with increasing the diversity of families who discover organizations like TCAT, the festival is also drawing a growing group of event hosts eager to share their learning resources with the community.
In 2019, the first time Knoxville participated in the festival, there were fewer than 10 events hosted in the region; this year, there will be more than 30, and more than 50 in the state.
“A summer reading program might just be what your child needs,” Hestand says. Even if the parents’ schedule is busy, they may learn about new organizations through Remake Learning Days which could lead to the discovery of virtual programs that are perfect for this summer.
Knoxville’s events will be a mix of virtual and in-person because of the pandemic. The virtual events open up even more possibilities for local families, because kids and parents can tune in together to virtual events happening in all 17 regions of the country between April 22 and May 23.
Among the virtual and in-person events being hosted in Knoxville this year:
- May 7: Build your own battery using cardboard, salt, vinegar, seven nickels and seven pennies.
- May 7: Treats and Tugs, conducted by the Clinton Public Library, will celebrate the launch of the library’s summer reading program by showing how to transform T-shirts into dog toys, and make simple three-ingredient dog treats. Participants can take the toys and treats home or leave them at the library for donation to a local animal shelter.
- May 7: Get a handle on basic car maintenance, while also discovering what kinds of training a professional service technician needs.
- May 10: Learning the ancient art of origami while learning to fold a traditional crane.
- May 11: Drawing for kids, a virtual event on the basics of drawing for children.
Whether Remake Learning Days events lead a student toward a career or simply get them excited about learning, the impact is positive.
Hestand says: “If you can expose younger folks to some things, it broadens their opportunities. That can change their life, hook them up with their passion so they can have the most success.”
He remembers an automotive instruction event in 2019 where two young siblings were enthralled by a torque wrench that lit up. “The young girl was jumping up and down,” he says. “She may remember that and think, ‘Hey, I want to be an auto mechanic.’ That’s really the spark we are looking for.”
Knoxville will host events May 5-15. For more information, click here: https://remakelearningdays.org/knoxville/