Remake:  Encouraging Kids to Become Makers

One of the pleasant surprises in the growth of MAKE Magazine is that the magazine has a strong appeal among teens. We hear stories from parents about how engaged their son or daughter is by the projects in the magazine. We hear the same from teachers.
We want to do all that we can to encourage future generations to become makers.

One thing we’ve been doing is organizing Maker visits in some Bay Area schools. Last week, Michelle Hlubinka, who has coordinated Education Day at Maker Faire, took at group of makers to the Head-Royce School in Oakland.

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Here’s Michelle’s writeup on the visit:

We did two assemblies to all of the 6-12th graders, a total of 488 students plus probably a couple dozen of their teachers, and then we also did a short “bonus round” with two classes of fourth graders (another 40 kids), who are studying electricity now so they were especially tuned into how our demos worked.

They got a brief overview of Maker Faire from me, followed by some hands-on time with LEDs and coin cells (the middle schoolers got to take home “Glowies”–the school had magnets that weren’t quite right to make good Throwies.) Then they saw the video “I Make…” Kids of all ages sure do love those Mobile Muffins!

Then I had the joy of introducing the students to 5 Makers with inspiring projects. Oohs and ahhs all around. Ken Murphy showed off his Blinkybugs, Dan Goldwater of MonkeyElectric showed his bikes (he brought the LED one with him) and his lamp, and ORB SWARM their rolling emergent-behavior spherebots. The SWARM was demoed by Marnia Johnston, Lee Sonko, and “Jesse”. Perhaps because they went last, or because robots elicit more questions like “What happens if they get out of your control?” the ORB folks got all the questions in the Q&A.

All in all it went great with very positive feedback from the kids and the teachers.

The best though was a response from one of the students, as reported by his parent to his teacher:

My son said that today was the “best day of the entire school year.” He was enthralled with the “Make” guys and knows that he “wants to be those guys.” Thanks for getting one teenager very, very excited about the future.

2 thoughts on “Remake: Encouraging Kids to Become Makers

  1. Hehe, I can relate. One of the reason why I’m studying mech engineering is because make: got me involved in inventing and finding solutions to problems. I was always a tinkering kid but make: made me get in touch with that and showed me there’s a whole world out there. It got me from simply doodling with stuff to actually trying to make usable products.

    Now that I think of it, a good friend of mine, who I went to high-school with and tinkered with is now studying to become a plane electro-mechanic… but also smelts scrap airplane aluminium parts in his dorm among other things.

    :)

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DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

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