If you’ve watched shows like Mythbusters, Flea Market Flip, Robot Wars, or Shark Tank, then you’ve experienced the “Maker Movement.” It’s about creating to solve a problem. It involves people from all walks of life; not only engineers and hackers, but artists, crafters, cooks, performers and writers, kids and adults, girls and boys.
The concept of making has been around as long as humans have existed; it is the original problem-based learning scenario. Someone sharpened that first stone to create a knife for cutting meat. Maybe your grandmother belongs to a quilting circle. Your uncle is a scoutmaster who teaches survival skills. Your dad likes to ‘tinker’ in the garage, pulling out old engines and seeing what made them tick. Your children like to create their own cosplay outfits. These folks are all Makers.
The tools of a maker run the gamut from basic to high-tech. Some may use pencil and paper; others prefer duct tape and glue guns. Some like the whirl of a sewing machine or the sparks of a welder. And still others use computers, laser cutters and 3D printers. Whatever the problem, humans will use or create technology to solve it.
Maker education encourages learners to become self-starters. Children are given criteria and a real-life problem to solve. They get a chance to do what they love best–learning by doing. They aren’t given directions or a recipe to follow; only the tools of your choosing and a goal. They may fail at first, but that’s part of both the design process and the growth mindset.
Although it is most closely related to STE(A)M learning, the maker mindset can be nurtured in any classroom from K to 12. Students can learn to blog, develop newsletters or design book jackets in ELA, create videos, animations, or websites on topics central to social studies or world language, or write code for a game that involves solving math problems or tracking activity for health class.
The best part of all–the kids take the lead. The teacher does not need to be the expert, but allows the students to find the media of their choice and share it with their peers. Let the students be the teachers, and the teachers can learn from their students, and all can be creative Makers in the process.
Intrigued? Here are some resources that can get you started: