This June marks the anniversary of the first-ever White House Maker Faire http://www.whitehouse.gov/maker-faire hosted by President Obama and featuring over 100 Makers from more than 25 states and included more than 30 exhibits representing an incredible range of creativity, problem solving, collaboration and critical thinking. Maker Faires and Makerspaces are part of a growing movement of hands-on, mentor-led learning environments to a remake the physical and digital worlds. They foster experimentation, invention, creation and exploration. The movement aligns with President Obama’s Educate to Innovate initiative and his call to “think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering [and]...encourage young people to create and build and invent—to be makers of things, not just consumers of things.” (Obama, 2009)
The Maker Movement is evolving as a powerful self-directed learning zone in community centers, public and school libraries, universities, and K-12 classrooms. Their hands-on character coupled with the tools and raw materials that support invention, provide the ultimate workshop for the tinkerer and the perfect educational space for individuals who learn best by doing. Interaction among the makers fosters a highly collaborative environment that provides peer advice and support. Makers like to figure out how things are made, how to fix things, or how to use them in entirely new ways- they are non-linear thinkers, curious inventors and problems solvers.
David Wells, Manager of Creative Making & Learning, Education at the NY Hall of Science, explains in his ground breaking guide, “A Blueprint: Maker Programs for Youth,” http://nysci.org/wp-content/uploads/nysci_maker_blueprint.pdf the crucial steps to creating and implementing a successful makerspace and offers advice on the core ideas that remain the same for all makerspaces:
- Hands-on is key. Offer children the opportunity to build, make and create.
- Children make something (design process) versus doing experiments (scientific process).
- Programs can follow a set of planned activities, but should encourage trial and error and allow for individual creativity and experimentation.
- Children own their creations. When a project is completed, kids should be able to take their project home.
- Programs should be long enough in duration that children can immerse themselves and result in a meaningful experience.
- Make sharing of ideas, projects, skills and knowledge an integral part of the program.
If you’re interested in learning more about makerspaces, SWBOCES Professional Development Center is hosting a makerspace workshop on May 1, 2015, “MakerSpace: Zone for Critical and Creative Thinking” offering hands-on experiences. Check the workshop website at: http://libguides.swboces.org/MakerSpaces Register at: https://www.mylearningplan.com/WebReg/ ActivityProfile.asp?D=12439&I=1795132