Thursday, April 6, 2017

A new Spin on Galimotos: It's all about problem solving.

I wrote the book Galimoto nearly thirty years ago and kids at schools where I travel to as  a visiting author are still making galimotos.   In the book, Kondi searches his village in Malawi, Africa to find enough wire to make a toy car that has moving parts; axle, wheels, and a steering wheel that all work.

The children I saw in Malawi used whatever they could find to make these parts for their toys, which for me, are like works of art.  The wheels might be made out of wire pounded with a rock around a pipe to make them perfectly round.  Or maybe the children used discarded bottle caps found in the market area, saved up until there were enough for 4 wheels.  I have seen the wheels of galimotos made out of thin vines woven around and around and twisted together to make wheels.  Slices of yams made wobbly wheels and sometimes the styrofoam-like material under the skin of cornstalks worked too.

But when I visited Severn school last week, I saw a new spin on wheels for galimotos.   The children had plenty of pipe cleaners used to fashion their toy vehicles but when it came to wheels they could not find anything in the classroom that might work.

No problem! With a three-D printer they were able to turn out enough round plastic discs to make wheels for everyone in the class.

It took me a while to digest this solution and the connection between play in an African village and this high tech world of a classroom in the US.    Galimoto is, after all on one level, a story about a boy whose uses recyclables to make a toy.  In a place where toys are not available.  There are no building materials to buy and no money to buy them with.   Kondi is resilient, creative, independent, persistent and determined.  Just like the children I met in Malawi.

But then this hit me, it's all about problem solving.  Kondi is a problem solver and so are the kids in the school I visited.  They, like Kondi were using whatever was available to them to do what they had set out to do.  Create a galimoto.

We need problem solving abilities  more than ever.  Everywhere in the world today.

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