RE: Everything

There is always room for "How It's Made" types of videos, and there are plenty of them available out on the net. Seeing how manufacturers take basic raw materials and transform them through a process really helps us to have a closer grasp of what the everyday things around us really are. Being even slightly familiar with how people manipulate and construct things is really a key to acquiring a more creative command of the world around us. And this YouTube channel takes it to a whole new level.

How to Make Everything is about a guy who takes rudimentary materials and makes things we see and buy every day. But it is more than just a do-it-yourself type of thing about buying some paper, duct tape and string to end up with a wheelbarrow or something. Andy George does the research, grows the plants, collects the minerals, creates the pigments, glues, cloths, etc. and creates modern day objects from nothing. In the process, he even travels to the places of origin to get the materials.

George shares his learning process from beginning to end. For one example, he researches what it takes to make candy canes. Ingredients, pigments, flavors. Knowing that it takes sugar, he travels to get the plants, learns the process from the people who do it, and processes his sugar. He grows the plants for the flavoring and creates the alcohol base for it. Consults with candy makers for equipment and techniques so that he can put it all together in the end. The learning steps go through the arduous detail. He practices and sets up trials to prepare for final production.

In a broad episode range from 3 to over 20 minutes, George discusses products including suits, printing presses, chocolate, telescopes and even tofurkey. You learn about glass blowing, weaving, wood craft, grain processing and a myriad of other constructive disciplines along the way. In the end, you can even learn how to make eyeglasses from glass, ice or sugar, though the practical application of all such products may be somewhat limited.

Apart from being a great model of the project process, this series also has a lot to say about learning in general. The results of these projects can be a bit mixed, and George approaches it quite candidly. Where aspects of a work may not turn out quite as intended, he explores options. Though the candy canes may not fit our current ideas about production standards, the overarching importance still lies in the process and the learning. And the projects build on each other in beautiful ways. Techniques from one product naturally flow into another, which may have seemed completely unrelated. So we can see an important connectedness at work.

This YouTube channel obviously has some great strengths, yet there are things to consider with it for family learning. Though learners from 7 years up could digest some of these videos (depending on the learner), be sure to familiarize yourself with episodes because concepts involved can get advanced-- also not sure how many 7 year olds would really take a great deal of interest in tofurkey, either. . . Additionally, some discussions in the videos can be rather frank, as in the background section of the lipstick episode, and there can be parts that kids (and perhaps parents) just won't be ready for.

How to Make Everything is more than just a good learning experience, it is great example of and encouragement for learning in action. The videos cover a great deal of material for a very reasonable time investment. The amount of effort that goes into the production of these videos is quite striking, and the channel is very worthy of support. Also, they haven't quite gotten to absolutely everything yet, so please consider supporting them as you may be able.

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