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Amy Oyler has made homeschooling into a project, and homeschooling has made Amy Oyler into a maker. Her blog, The Scientific Mom, tracks Oyler’s hands-on projects as she teaches science to 8-year-old Kat. Amy started writing it to explain this whole homeschooling idea to friends and family, but it has grown in popularity as she has shared increasingly complex experiments and how-tos.

Amy always makes sure to share the science behind their projects, explaining that she’s careful to create a culture of research and correct information.

“I’ve raised my daughter with the idea that any question could lead us on an epic journey of exploration and discovery,” she says. “We’ve essentially decided that nothing is out of reach for us, if we have a question or a desire to learn something, there is bound to be a way to cultivate that somewhere.”

" After learning about pinball machines in Las Vegas, we came home and built our very own cardboard pinball machine," says Amy.

” After learning about pinball machines in Las Vegas, we came home and built our very own cardboard pinball machine,” says Amy.

As Kat has grown, Amy’s method has become one of collaborative discovery more than one-sided teaching. They reach out to scientists, professors, museums, and even hackers to learn about biology, chemistry, engineering, and physics. They built a biology lab in their home, and have a chemistry lab in progress. Kat visits museums, zoos, universities, science festivals, auto shops, makerspaces, and more, learning skills like bacteria culturing, soldering, 3D printing, and plasma cutting.

“Learning like this is fun because you get to do cool things like dissections, DNA extractions, and learn how everything works,” says Kat. “People in different generations talk to each other and share what they like to do, and can teach you all sorts of things.”

Kat may not be homeschooled forever, but Amy’s hooked on making, and has no plans to give it up.

“Making and tinkering gives us the ability to free ourselves from the binds of ‘I don’t know how to do this,’ and begin thinking more along the lines of ‘What do I have that I can use to make this?'” says Amy.

Nathan Hurst

Nathan Hurst is an editor at MAKE. He loves anything having to do with science or bicycling.


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