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By Gregory Hill, co-founder and project lead of The Disruption Department (St. Louis, MO)

On Saturday, February 9, St. Louis’ Disruption Department hosted a “Popup Makerspace” for teachers at EdcampSTL, a completely free unconference organized by educators. Over seventy teachers came to the temporary space, each of them having the chance to solder a MAKE Learn to Solder LED badge, program an Arduino or a Lego NXT Robot, and to try their hand at the Ruby programming language. The goal was to provide low-risk, low-barrier learning experiences for beginners, with the hope that they would dive more deeply into the things they had the most fun doing in the future (and with the added hope that they will go back to their own schools and convince school leaders to experiment with makerspaces there).

The space was energetic, fun, and challenging, being that most had zero experience with the making tools available in the space. Many left looking to connect about offering similar opportunities to other teachers at their schools. Most educators have conversations about the future of education, we’d like to think that the teachers who came to our space lived the future of education with us. One participant reflected on the importance of making in education:

When we say there is no time to build a robot, we should think about what we’re turning down. Circuits, conduction, melting points of metals, positives, negatives, trouble shooting, problem solving, collaboration, creativity, thinking, science, math, reading.  Interdisciplinary learning. Real learning. The kind where it’s hard and where it means something.  No time for that?  Maybe the thing we need to really be trying to make in schools is more time to make stuff.

Mad props to Andrew Goodin (@desertdiver), Allie DeSmet (@profadesmet) and Brad Cameron (@pbcameron) for their work making it happen.

Check out thedisruptiondepartment.org to see a little more about our work, and you can contribute to our Student Fellowship Program here.

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The Popup Makerspace participants hard at work, learning to solder.

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Laura Cochrane

I’m an editor at MAKE and CRAFT. I like hiking, biking, and etymology.


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