I have recently experienced my first maker experience in a school. What a sight to be seen! I had read about them, I had visited a large maker faire but had never witnessed it at work in the hallowed halls of a school. The engagement of students was incredible. Collaboration between kids was breath taking and the creativity, oh my!
What is a maker experience in a school? It began with the maker movement which is, in a nutshell, a combining of inventors/tinkerers/designers and technology. The popularity of the movement within schools might be fueled by needing more tactile, physical attributes of science and engineering pursuits to engage young students (without losing them in a screen). Some schools have devoted areas, blank canvases, stocked with all sorts of supplies for designing, building, creating and inventing. Other schools opt for a one/two/three day event where regular school stops and “making” starts. Students rotate through different stations, each one focusing on one or more core concepts but always allowing for authentic work and personal choice. This is an awesome step for schools shifting from traditional teacher-led classrooms. These maker spaces turn students to the center of their learning experience.
During my recent “first”, I facilitated three different stations: Sphero Chariot Racing, Cardboard Creation and littleBits for Big Brains. Each session was designed around the following framework (a shoutout to my teammate Erin Olson for her expertise!):
- Explanation (less than 5 minutes)
- Brainstorm/Think time (5 minutes)
- Create (20-30 minutes)
- Reflect/Share (10 minutes)
- Revision (10-15 minutes)
- Celebrate/Final Reflect (10-15 minutes)
The above framework guided the kids perfectly (and me too!). I was nearly brought to tears towards the end of the second day… the level of engagement and concentration while the students were creating with the littleBits circuitry was off-the-charts INCREDIBLE! I have been around the block, I have taught for almost a decade and let me assure you, this maker movement is something to pay attention to. I believe (hope, pray, wish, desire, crave) this is the future of our education. Kids central, kids creating, kids problem-solving, kids engaged, kids interested, kids collaborating, kids designing, kids planning, kids active.
Kids. Loving. Learning.