We believe that making can transform the way we all learn, from preschoolers through retirees. This is what matters the most about learning by making:
- Making together. Makers rarely work in isolation. Social context supports making, and we are inspired by the people, projects, materials, and tools around us while we work. We find that Makers of all stripes, from knitters to roboticists, appreciate the work of other Makers because they know that they share a love of taking an idea and bringing it into the world. All Makers have proven themselves to be curious and motivated people who often turn to peers for ideas, advice, guidance, support and collaboration….and if they need none of those, then the community offers them a hearty congratulations! Makers are responsible citizens of a creative nation, and their commitment is both local and global.
- Exhibition, not competition. Deadlines — and the self-inflicted pressure to show something interesting to people who come to Maker Faire — give Makers all the motivation they need to do their best. Making doesn’t have to be about “losers” and “winners.” At Maker Faire, anything that’s cool is fair game. In a marketplace of ideas, you don’t need someone to give you a letter grade to tell you whether your idea is a good one or not. Speaking of failure….
- Embracing failure. Makers identify challenges where they have a chance to solve new problems or tell new stories. Failure is inevitable when you are doing something new, but Makers learn from their mistakes and try, try again until they complete their project. Makers are unafraid of engaging in difficult tasks when they care about the results, and they care about finishing because they set the agenda.
- Tools keep improving. Emerging technologies and infrastructure encourage individualism and creativity while also making possible all our Maker communities, environments, and events. And the tools just get better and better. We keep an eye on these developments and fold them into what we’re doing as needed.
- Everyone can MAKE. Makers come from everywhere. Kids, adults, experts, newbies. Some Makers have earned two PhDs, others never graduated from anywhere. All Makers spend long hours in their studios, shops, kitchens, and garages finishing their projects…because they love what they do. And we don’t exclude much from the Making umbrella. We have projects in art, craft, engineering, music, food, green design, science, technology, health…. Makers often work in several of these areas at once. If you can make it, we want to hear about it.
Learn more about our approach and philosophy with these essays and videos:
- Why Young Makers Matter, the text of a talk Dale Dougherty gave at the Aspen Ideas Festival in July 2010
- Smart Grid for Education, a thought-piece on organizing community-based learning resources and open portfolios.
- Free and Open Education, a talk at Open Education Resources Conference, March 2011
- We are makers, a TED@MotorCity talk in January 2011
- Fast-tracking: Alternatives to College, an interview with Sridhar Vembu of Zoho.
- Innovation, Education, and the Maker Movement, a report from an NSF-funded workshop in September 2010
What We’re Thinking About
- How should we design and organize makerspaces for education?
- What kinds of environments, resources, personnel, and supervision are needed?
- How would these map into different settings such as hackerspaces, afterschool programs, classes or courses?
- How can we help learners communicate across physical spaces?
- Projects and process.
- What kinds of projects are useful and engaging in educational settings?
- What is the form kits and their components, including supporting materials such as written documentation and video?
- How can kits be used without limiting learners to pre-scripted outcomes?
- What kinds of things would budding Makers most want to see in online resource libraries: tutorials, knowledge, projects?
- How can online tools and networks be used to support student work?
- Are online portfolios a useful way for learners to track and share their work?
- Progressions and practices.
- How do students at different levels of expertise and different age levels get started and make progress?
- What encourages and develops student interest and motivation?
- Is there authentic, active learning taking place?
- How can we track progress and how can students share their work (portfolios)?
- What can we do to nurture the development of communities of practice?
- What kind of training and professional development do mentors and teachers need in this new kind of learning setting?
- How can we help educators share best practices?
- Core Qualities.
- Can we describe the values, spirit, and ethics (such as discipline, mutual respect, reciprocity, and self-direction) we see emerging in the Maker movement and recognize them as a goal of a well-rounded education?
- How do the clubs, spaces, and leaders who come out of our initiatives embody these qualities?
Young Makers We’ve been working with Pixar and the Exploratorium’s Learning and Tinkering Studios to encourage more young people to learn to make and bring projects of their own design to Maker Faire. You can support this effort by making a Maker Club in your school, neighborhood, or community, or by volunteering to help kids who need mentors.
Makerspaces A makerspace is a place, modeled after hackerspaces, where young people have an opportunity to explore their own interests, learn to use tools and materials, and develop creative projects. A makerspace could be embedded inside an existing organization or standalone on its own. It could be a simple room in a building or an outbuilding that is closer to a shed. The key thing is to have a space that can adapt to a wide variety of uses and that can be shaped by educational purposes as well as the students’ own creative goals. Interested in creating a makerspace in your community? We’d like to hear from you!
Mini Maker Faires It’s been exciting to see how other organizations have adapted Maker Faire and made it something new in dozens of different venues around the world. If you’d like to create a Maker Faire at your school or in your community, be sure to check out our page for Mini Maker Faire organizers and the abundant resources we’ve compiled to make your task easier. We hope that Maker Faire will be the new science fair!
Make with your students! For years teachers and parents have been asking us how they can turn Maker Faire into a year-round experience. Here are our suggestions
- Make Your Own Maker Club and add it to our growing network of Young Makers program affiliates.
- Pick a project to try with your kids. We’ve posted a handful of projects we think work well with the youngest Makers. Find a project on Make: Projects or add your own there.
- Explore our video content. We were proud to be recognized by The Telegraph as the best website in education.
- Find Makers who’d like to serve as mentors to inspire your students. Post a volunteer job opportunity for mentors, or invite Makers to visit your classroom in person or via Skype.
- Subscribe to MAKE, the magazine that started it all, with an educational discount (if the subscription is delivered to an educational institution.)
Please visit our friends at the Maker Education Initiative to learn of the exciting work they are doing with schools and communities.