Scout troops do lots of amazing things. From service projects to outdoor adventures to the all-important role played in all of our lives by Girl Scout cookies (which reminds me, who’s selling? I need to get hooked up with some peanut butter Tagalongs, stat), scout troops provide kids with a host of excellent opportunities for learning and growing … assuming your child fits into the particular mold of your local group.
Not all kids are well matched to scouting as a hobby: their personality may be more introverted, or they may be interested in things outside the general scope of what the scouts cover: for indoors-y science nerds like me, for example, the Girl Scout offerings probably would have been slim pickings. Or maybe the mismatch is a little more fundamental, considering the grossly outdated ideas still firmly entrenched in the Boy Scouts’ bylaws. For kids who fall outside the parameters for scout membership, though, there’s another option: this cool app called DIY.
DIY, developed by Isaiah Saxon and Zach Klein, offers kids the opportunity to explore and learn about whatever they’re interested in, whether that happens to be cooking, game design, genetics, or making elaborate sculptures out of cardboard. Kids complete and submit their work for three chosen tasks in a particular subject, and then get feedback from their peers. They’re then awarded a badge for their work, and completing three more tasks earns them the acknowledgement of their mastery in that skill. Paid DIY members get actual physical embroidered patches for each learned skill as part of their memberships, but you can buy them individually in the online store for $4 too; paid membership also includes personal mentoring from DIY coaches. And check out those badges, by the way–how cute are they?! (Check out more full-size versions at Saxon’s Tumblr, too.)
Besides the opportunity for kids to find their own learning niches, the app‘s goal of turning learning into a game is a great way to engage kids who just aren’t that into learning for the sake of learning. I know I as a kid enjoyed attempting to become the living incarnation of a box of Trivial Pursuit cards, but I also know that I was kind of a weird kid, and that gamification is what helps get me through tedious adult tasks like a three-mile run (can I level up my mile time to under ten minutes?) (spoiler: probably not). Giving kids the option to win at learning? Awesome.
My kids aren’t old enough to appreciate something like DIY yet, unless there is a badge I missed for “chewing vigorously on Mom’s electronic devices”, but this makes me want to borrow someone’s ten-year-old to build kites and learn magic tricks. If your child isn’t interested in scouting, or just wants to explore the wide world at her own pace, DIY just might be the thing for your family. And if not, maybe just do this stuff yourself, because it looks awesome. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be outside working on my Yeti skills.
(Feature image: DIY Market)