A technological and
creative revolution is unfolding around the world: the maker movement, which
celebrates using technology to make, repair and customize the things we
Hundreds of thousands of adults and children alike are
frequenting Maker Faires, hackerspaces and DIY websites to tap into a growing library of literature
that inspires learners to seize control of their world. Making draws on the
engineering, design and computer science skills of anyone who is willing to dive
in and try something new.
Fortunately for educators, the maker movement also overlaps with
children's natural inclination to learn by doing.
Digital fabrication devices, such as 3D printers and physical
computing — including Arduino, MaKey MaKey and Raspberry Pi — expand a child's
toy chest with new ways to make things and new things to make. For the first
time ever, children's inventions may be printed, programmed or animated with
interactivity. Recycled materials can be brought back to
As today's makers freely share their ideas, programs and designs
through online communities, students can easily dive in and use other people's
ideas as building blocks for their own creations.
the maker movement in schools
While school traditionally separates art and science, theory and
practice, such divisions are artificial. The real world just doesn't work that
Architects are artists. Craftsmen deal in aesthetics, tradition and
mathematical precision. Video game designers rely on computer science.
Engineering and industrial design are inseparable. The finest scientists are
often accomplished musicians.
The maker community brings children, hobbyists and professionals
together in a glorious celebration of personal expression with a modern
To encourage students to become
makers, every school should keep these
game-changers on its radar:
fabrication devices. Over
the past few years, devices that fabricate 3D objects have become an affordable
reality. These 3D printers can output a physical object based on a digital
design. Plastic filament is melted and deposited in intricate patterns that
build layer by layer. With 3D design and printing, students can combine math,
science and craft to design and create their own
open source microcontrollers, sensors and interfaces connect the physical world
to the digital world in ways never before possible. Many schools are familiar
with robotics, one aspect of physical computing, but a whole new world is
opening up. Wearable computing, for example, incorporates circuits made from
conductive thread to create textiles that are smart, flexible and mobile. And
plug-and-play devices that connect small microprocessors to the internet, to
each other or to any number of sensors offer a low-cost way for students to
test, monitor and explore the world.
is a new call for programming in schools, from the Next Generation Science
Standards to the White House. Programming is the key to controlling this new
world of computational devices, and the range of programming languages has never
been greater. Modern languages are designed for every purpose and every age
from the maker movement
The tools of the maker movement are amazing, but their impact goes
deeper than that. Making is not just a novelty or a trend — it's
a stance toward
learning. It's a conviction that problems
are made to be solved, challenges are fun and "doing" is what
The maker movement opens up endless options to explore what
students might find interesting or fall in love with. Giving kids the
opportunity to learn about what they love means they will love what they
Some educators say technology is "just a tool" that should fit
seamlessly into traditional classrooms. In contrast, the maker movement
approaches technology as the essential element for solving unsolvable problems.
To makers, a 3D printer isn't just a tool for making 3D objects — it's the raw
material for solving problems such as creating inexpensive but custom-fit
prosthetics for people anywhere in the world or delivering a pizza to hungry
astronauts. The maker philosophy prepares kids to solve problems their teachers
never anticipated with technology we can't yet
Our new book,Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and
Engineering in the Classroom
, explores the maker movement and makes the
educational case for bringing making, tinkering and engineering to every
classroom. The book combines theory, history, practical classroom tips and
countless resources to help K-12 schools make creativity, construction and
children the focus of education once again.
The Common Core and the new Next Generation Science
Standards emphasize critical thinking,
creativity and digital age skills. Achieving these goals requires taking a hard
look at both what we teach and how we teach it. The maker movement offers
lessons, tools and technology for steering a new course to more relevant,
engaging learning experiences for all students.
Sylvia Martinez is a maker education advocate and
co-author of Invent to Learn.
Connect with her on Twitter via @smartinez.