If you want to be a maker, you have to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Allowing students to play, collaborate, build and make freely gives them powerful learning opportunities. So how can you support students through making and spark a maker movement at your school? Here are three tips from ISTE 2015 maker movement session presenters:
1. Establish a maker camp or build an arcade in the style of Caine’s Arcade.
Making is about problem solving, collaboration and getting students excited about their learning. Laura Briggs, a technology resource teacher at Loudoun County Public Schools, suggests an immersive maker experience such as organizing a maker camp to ignite student creativity. The camp can feature making with high-tech tools like 3D printing and robotics, or materials can be low cost and simple, like cardboard, duct tape and popsicle sticks. A project in the style of Caine’s Arcade, built out of cardboard and found items, is a great way to get students building, playing and learning at very low cost.
2. When establishing a makerspace, focus on the students first.
Identifying your makerspace needs is important, but the best way to get started is to focus on the students first, advises Sylvia Martinez, co-author of Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. Get students making and expand your makerspace as you go. And remember to guide learning with prompts and challenges rather than a rigid lesson plan. This will encourage critical thinking, creative problem solving and deeper learning.
3. Remember, it’s not about the space, it’s about the mindset.
“Don’t equate making with 3D printing,” advises Vinnie Vrotny, director of technology at the Kinkaid School in Texas. Direct your energies toward developing the maker culture first, and toward the makerspace itself second. Low-tech resources like cardboard and tape can provide powerful learning opportunities, and you can start small with an alternative makerspace, such as a maker cart that you can transport from classroom to classroom. A willingness to allow students to explore is the key factor, not expensive equipment.
If you missed the live version of Meet the Makers Google+ Hangout on Air, you can view the recorded version below and hear more from these maker experts. Meet them in person at ISTE 2015 and check out the full schedule of maker movement sessions.