I WANT to be Super Awesome, just like Sylvia!
If you understood my opening, you already know something about the Maker Movement. If not, then simply think of it as the technology driven sub-culture of Do It Yourself.
At the expensive end of making, you will find 3D printing, robotics and $5000 drones. But you can get your students making with minimal space and a small budget.
Before going into the specifics of getting started, it’s worth devoting some space to the ‘why’. Making is a participatory approach to learning based upon the central belief that humans, over our long history, have always been makers.
Certainly, the increased presence of technology in classrooms has led to a disconnection from the physical world. Although I don’t know the attribution, there is a quote, frequently seen on Twitter and Pinterest, which can serve as a reminder for teachers.
“Yes, kids love technology, but they also love Legos, scented markers, handstands, books, and mud puddles. It’s all about balance.”
Whilst I’ve always seen the truth in this statement, I assumed that making was best suited to younger students.
But then our school librarian, Kerry Schwier, attended EduTech 2015 in Brisbane. She saw a presentation by 13-year-old Super Awesome Sylvia about making and came back determined to create a makerspace.
I soon came on board and we launched in.
A makerspace can certainly be mobile; at the moment ours is housed in a few boxes. We started out with a couple of Makey Makey kits, which to my astonishment had senior students lining up to play banana bongos!
I’m prepared to admit to having great fun myself, though I was dubious about the aluminium foil bracelet and the earth wire. Some of you will know what I’m talking about.
By next year we hope to have a permanent home, adjoining the school library, for our makers to explore all the possibilities. I’ve already learned that a certain lack of structure is the key – let the students plan, collaborate, tinker, create, fail and start over.
We’ve ordered kits from Raspberry Pi and Arduino (Sylvia’s favourite) but you can employ a whole range of everyday items in your making.
Yes, I’m an enthusiastic convert but I also see the considerable educational benefits in making – of becoming hands-on and embracing a challenge.
Our librarian already has plans for a remote control book trolley. Me? I just want an entire fleet of origami drones.