Teach Make!
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On a cold night in January of 2005 I set out to find a magazine stand. One of my students, Michael McKinley, now a Mechanical and Industrial Engineering senior at UMass Amherst, had shown me an announcement in Wired about a new publication from O’Reilly. The new magazine was called Make, and though I had been using O’Reilly’s books for years, somehow I hadn’t figured out the connection. Basically, I went to every shopping mall with a bookstore, checking the magazine racks as I went. Eventually, I found myself in Harvard Square, where legend has it that a young Bill Gates first glimpsed a photo of the Altair kit computer. My timing was not quite as good as Bill’s. Make # 1 had yet to hit the press, let alone the street. I figured out what O’Reilly publications was when after another reading of Wired I found the article again and looked up O’Reilly, “oh, the one with the animals!”

Rather than going out on another quest, I decided to subscribe. Then I just had to wait. Fortunately, there was the Makezine.com and the blog. Rather than just one hack a day, now I could have a bunch. I started feeding links and ideas to Phillip. I opened a Flickr account to join the Make photo pool. I tried out and really got into pbwiki for my classroom websites. I wrote up online descriptions of projects, added links to the pictures of the work by my students. Before I had an mp3 player, I burned a disk of audio podcasts and listened to them on the highway from Seward to Anchorage during the Summer of 2005. I passed on just about every cool link to an interesting project I could find. Instead of running out of online resources, I found more.

Students came into my high school engineering program familiar with projects that had been done the year before because of what they saw on the Make blog. Students in the program got more excited about their work because they saw that it could have a much wider audience than the walls of the school could provide.

So, now I find myself with a wonderful offer. If you are a teacher or work with kids or adults on Make friendly projects and would like to share them, Make and I would like to help. We would like to see how we can provide resources for educators. Did you try a project from the magazine or blog with a class, or other group of people? How did it go? What did you find out? You can post photos to the Make Flickr Pool, make a blog or wiki posting or provide other resources that would be handy for another teacher venturing into a project with a group of clever people. I will be trying out some of the projects and writing them up to share as well. You can post in the comments to help spread the word about great school and education projects.

TeachMake!

Chris Connors

Duxtech Wiki – Link

Fussing With Stuff – Link

Some of my Make submissions- Link

2 thoughts on “Teach Make!

  1. I’m not sure if this falls within the bounds of your request but as a way to support my son’s interest in technology and supplement what is, except for computer class, an almost tech-free school experience, we have created a web show called WREXLabs (Reverse Engineering eXperimental Labs (the W is silent)), in which we take things apart to see how they work. We’ve got three episodes created so far with another one in post-production. In future episodes we will not only take things apart but we’ll be taking the parts we find and using them to make new things. We’ve got brush bot and electrical generator episodes planned. What we’d really like to do with WREXLabs is build a community of kids who don’t look at each other funny when they say they want to take apart an RC Car or an alarm clock or a disk drive. You can check out our web page and videos at http://www.wrexlabs.com. We’d love to see teachers using reverse engineering to get kids interested in science and technology, and if WREXLabs could help in doing that then we’d be very happy.

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Making things is the best way to learn about our world.

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