Maker, Makerspace, Maker Faire, are any of these words familiar to you? They were completely foreign to me until last Tuesday. I had never heard of the Maker Movement. Through lots of research and discussion, my classmates and I wrote out rough definitions.
So what’s the big deal about this movement? It is something special taking the world by storm. Since humans are naturally goal oriented and seeking information constantly, (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, 2000) it makes sense that we start allowing ourselves to explore and create. It is commonplace for us to specialize in certain tasks or fields in today’s society. We have others do what we think we cannot. The Maker Movement challenges that mindset and promotes us to be the makers. This is especially important in the field of education.
We want our students to construct knowledge themselves (2000) and that can occur through making. They learn “by constructing knowledge through the act of making something shareable” (Halverson and Sheridan, 2014). Students question, ideate, test, and re-test, to push their thinking to the limit. This type of learning also reaches across formal and informal learning (2014). We are giving them the time and space they need to learn for themselves.
To help promote these ideas in young minds today, my classmates and I were challenged to put on a Maker Faire at the Michigan State Library. The planning process was quite a whirlwind. Most of us had very little knowledge of anything relating to makers or the Maker Movement. We went from zero to one hundred in a matter of seven days, hosting a public event where over 200 people attended. There were seven unique stations ranging from penny boat wars (low tech) to programming ozobots to move (high tech).
The main objective at our station was for makers to apply their knowledge of completing circuits to explore conductors and insulators. They learned what a circuit needs to function including how to place materials. By the end of their time with us, makers could describe which materials are conductors and which are insulators. They also understood how to operate a Makey Makey and how to play online musical instruments or games. This activity supports exploration, play, and teamwork.
The entire Maker Faire experience was very rewarding, eye-opening, and memorable. The planning part of it was stressful at times because there were just so many things that my classmates and I didn’t know. We brainstormed a long list of questions early on and coming up with answers seemed like such a daunting task. I remember thinking to myself; how we are going to make this happen? It took time, collaboration, and dedication to produce ideas that we thought could work. Things became easier as we got to know each other better.
The “test run” was very valuable to our success at the Maker Faire as Mary and I made some changes to the set-up of our stations. We learned that we were giving makers too much freedom and that some would need more guidance. It is a difficult balance of giving them enough room to explore while also giving them some structure.
Our scaffolded stations were a hit with students and grandparents of all ages! It was a moving experience to witness engaged learners excited about pushing themselves to the limit. We encountered one hiccup with our technology during our Maker Faire. One laptop at a gaming station froze and had technical difficulties. I would suggest if you want to run this station, you have some more adults to troubleshoot if there are any issues or have extra technology on hand. With that said, I was very happy with the way #GotThePower turned out!
“Hot Cross Buns” played with a banana, play dough, and a stick of gum!
When I go back to my classroom in the fall I want to use what I learned from this Maker Faire to push my high school students as learners. Students need to question and explore ideas on their own as “fear is the enemy of curiosity” (Berger, 2014). I want to provide tasks for them to explore and figure out the meaning behind the mathematics. They should be the ones asking the questions, not me. That is what the Maker Movement is all about!
Check out The Power to Conduct for detailed information on how to successfully set up and run this station in your classroom or Maker Faire. Please do not hesitate to leave a comment if you have a question. I am happy to help!
I’ll leave you on a high note… This young maker played “Mary Had a Little Lamb” with a gummy bear, apple sauce, a spoon, play dough, and a metal clip!
Bransford, J., Brown, A.L. & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309070368
Halverson, E. R., & Sheridan, K. M. (2014). The maker movement in education. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), 495504. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.proxy1.cl.msu.edu/docview/ 1651843463?accountid=12598