New Events and Learning From Strandbeests

It’s been an eventful time since my two webinars a couple of weeks ago. First, I had a great time doing the webinars and apparently so did the audience. In fact, some people contacted me to say that they couldn’t get into the event I did with Diane Keith/Homefires since they reached their capacity (500 attendees) and couldn’t squeeze anyone else in. As a result, Diane ran a recording of the webinar for free over the subsequent weekend to accommodate those who couldn’t get in.

Then I learned that voted my blog one of the best about the unschooling movement.

Then I was contacted by the Florida Parent Educator’s Association to deliver two workshops at their conference in Orlando over the Memorial Day weekend (May 26–28). I have addressed this conference several times in the past, but I haven’t done so in perhaps a decade and I’m looking forward to seeing how it has grown. The organizers tell me they expect 10,000 attendees this year. I also have upcoming speaking engagements in Chicago (March 25–26) and Sandusky, OH (May 16– 19). Please navigate to “Farenga Speaking Engagements” if you would like more information about these events.

Then there is the wealth of materials, information, and good books that keep coming to me. I look forward to writing about them all, and to get started here are two interesting resources for anyone interested in learning about science, art, and nature.

The first is for those interested in nature and animals, or for those who would like to try and see if they become interested. It is The Great Backyard Bird Count and it provides people of any age with an opportunity to participate in a genuine science project being conducted by the Audobon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and Bird Studies of Canada. Here is the general information:

The 14th annual Great Backyard Bird Count is coming up February 18–21, 2011. People of all ages and skill levels are needed to count birds in their yards, neighborhoods, or other locations across the United States and Canada. Simply tally birds for at least 15 minutes on any day of the count, then go to and enter the highest number of each species seen at any one time.

The second is a fascinating video about an artist who creates life forms. I think the term “life” is being used pretty loosely here, but I think a child or adult who is interested in mechanics, engineering, and creating things that move autonomously will be as fascinated as I was by this video. Further, the kinetic artist, Theo Jansen, uses no electronics to make his creations move. He uses PVC pipes, rope, and fabric to capture the wind and animate his work. This video may inspire children to create their own such creatures, or at least inspire them to figure out how these things move. I suspect having a good anatomy book, such as my favorite The Anatomy Coloring Book, will be a great aid in figuring out how to make their own creations move like Jansen’s Strandbeests.