Education
July is kid stuff!

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We’re thrilled to announce that July is kid’s month on Make: Online. We’re constantly getting requests to do more kid-related content and projects, so stay tuned over the coming month for much more of this on the site. We’ll have round-ups of our best kid-related coverage so far, in the magazine and here on the site, new kid-friendly projects, and we’re even going to invite some kids in to take our places in some of the columns, reviews, and blog postings. Who better to talk about kids and making than young makers?


Young Makers at the Exploratorium


Einstein’s Daughters FIRST robotics team

As always, we’d love for you to get involved. Do you have a cool kid-related project you’d like for us to cover? Are you a young person who loves MAKE and would like us to consider some contribution from you? Send us your ideas and we’ll see what we can do.

More:
Have you seen our Kids section on Make: Online? Lots of fun stuff there already.

26 thoughts on “July is kid stuff!

    1. Thanks for your input, Bob.

      As I’m sure you’re aware, we have a lot of mouths to feed here, content-wise, and try (and have always tried) to feed them all.

      What would you like to see more of on MAKE that you are not seeing, and we’ll see what we can do.

      1. Problem is Make started as a revival of the great science and hobby magazines from ‘back in the day’. The kind that future generations of scientists poured over not quite understanding how to do things but knowing that these things were possible. These magazines weren’t kid safe or kid friendly, but they were inspiring to kids all the same. When my father dragged me to weird computer/ electronics gatherings in the early eighties I learned a lot but didn’t have a Lego pin to play in. Yes, yes, every child is a precious little snowflake… but does everything educational have to be kid friendly?
        Face it, Make culls its content from us, the nuts on the fringe building robots and reanimating monsters in our basements. This is the Make that exploded onto the scene and got folks like me to love it and embrace the idea that we are a community of creators, not educators. Over the past few years, though, it seems clear that the business side of Make has crept in and is killing the original passion that made it so great. Stuff for kids = recession proof business. Repeated articles advocating stuff that the Make writers are investors in (EMSL, Makebot, Ladyada, …) is nepotistic. Repeated media appearances rebranding the Internet community’s creations as ‘Maker’ is all about money. My opinion, Make has lost its way… two years until the cover has macaroni glued into the shape of a robot. Nothing against your adorable children.

        P.S. Feel free to look up the phrase ‘Bob’s your uncle’. I am not your Uncle Bob.

        1. > Problem is Make started as a revival of the great science and hobby magazines
          > from ‘back in the day’.

          Every time that I hear a complaint like this I go back and grab a couple of old (first-year) issues of Make and a couple of recent issues of Make and flip through them.

          Try it. What’s actually surprising is *how little* has changed.

          (Also, I’m part of EMSL; the Make editors do often like our stuff, but they’re certainly not investors in any sense.)

          1. I’ve done the same thing and come to the same conclusions. I think maybe people’s perceptions are that it’s changed because the initial enthusiasm for the newness of MAKE has worn off and the “maker movement” has spread and there’s so much more DIY project content out there.

            In terms of charges of selling out, commercialism, being only about business, etc. We’re definitely selling, always have been. We’re a business. To survive and grow, we need to make money. That said, I think people would be surprised by how much our original passion is still very much intact. This is more than just a job for us. We do this because we love it. We go where our passion drives us and then we figure out how to make that sustaining. (Do you think doing a Maker Faire in Detroit is a calculated, “recession-proof” business decision?) We haven’t increased our emphasis on kids and education because we think there’s a lot of money to be had in that arena. We’ve gone there because we (especially Dale) are excited about what we have to offer educators and the the next generation of makers. We’ve always seen ourselves as creators AND educators. We’re just in more of a position to explore these areas and now have a corpus of material and a community infrastructure of makers to offer the educational world.

            BTW, we don’t have anything to do monetarily with EMSL, Adafruit, or Makerbot. These are projects done by people who’s work we admire, support, carry some of it in the Shed, blog about, but that’s just ’cause we think it’s top-notch stuff, not because we receive any direct investment benefits (except, of course, Phil who’s part of Adafruit, but MAKE itself is not invested in Adafruit). And we cover tons of other makers of kits and make-related products that we don’t have any personal, direct relationships with. We cover what’s good, what we’re excited about.

            And, Bob. You never answered the question directly: What SPECIFICALLY would you like to see in the magazine and on the site that isn’t here anymore and used to be?

          2. Make is in the brand-building business. Sure, fine. But with this comes the inevitable yielding to market forces and alienation of the early adopters. Science nerds don’t spend as liberally as proud parents, so Make toward a populist appeal… kid-friendly, product placements, and evangelization of MakerShed products. Nepotism-wise, Phil being part of Adafruit, Bre being part of Makerbot, and Make jumping to the defense of EMSL against a publisher that competes in the educational books market counts (Nepotism is favoritism granted to relatives or friends, without regard to their merit).
            So, what I would like to see that has gone away? Report on what was happening in the community rather than trying to steer it— observe and champion, don’t claim dominion. Give products which compete with the MakerStore or happen outside the Bay Area equal time. Point to the vast, active entrepreneurial community helping people start little stores doing new, innovative things rather than launching a column in which you will tell us how Make is creating the ability for people to sell kits (through your outlet). Steer people to the long active CNC diy world rather than point to the Makerbot (for sale in your shop)in article after article. Remember how long Arduino got ignored when you were pushing the Make Controller? Making money is fine, just stop pretending to be running a meritocracy.
            In short, stop acting like there was no community before Make. You are a media outlet reporting on what has been happening in garages and sheds for hundreds of years. Before the ‘Make’ brand it was called hacking or the long tail or diy or weekend warriors. If you try to control it you will lose it and become another Popular Science waiting to be picked off.
            There is a difference between saying ‘here is something kids could do’ and having a children themed Maker Faire.

          3. Well we certainly agree that it is tough to sway the faithful. Praise Make. Despite sounding like a reclusive nut, I am certain I speak to an increasing perception that many have. You are appealing to a different crowd by trying to extend your brand. If this isn’t a conversation you’ve had at staff meetings, I’ll eat this laptop. I assume it’s on purpose, I am voting against the change. Good luck.

          4. If your question is, do we sit around in meetings strategizing how to “appeal to a different crowd by trying to extend our brand,” Well, NO, not exactly. That’s not how we tend to go about our business. As I said before, we frequently brainstorm the stuff we’re excited about, the areas of DIY that we find interesting and that we see other’s being excited about. THEN we start thinking how to make that interest sustainable/profitable. Which isn’t to say we don’t look at metrics, try to figure out how to leverage various interests and areas to make them more financially successful — we ARE a business and we want to succeed as such. But we’re under the impression that we can provide the best goods and services to our readers/the consumers of our products if we work this way. And it makes it damn fun and exciting for those of us who work here.

            We DO try to figure out how to reach different audiences with what we’re doing, say the Ham radio community, for instance, but we don’t think about the commerce opportunities first and the potential benefits to them later. We think: Here’s a community of makers who’ve been doing tech projects for ages — we should figure out how to hook up with that community for our mutual benefit (the benefit of Maker Media, DIYers/makers in general, and ham radio geeks). And, we now know that hams, via the ARRL, have realized the same thing and are reaching out to us. This certainly isn’t about “branding opportunities” for them. I think the attraction is mutual and similar (tho, clearly, commerce is heavier in our mix than in theirs).

            Even in the Maker Shed, which is a store, so their brief is more focused (they sell stuff), the motivation for what they carry isn’t: what’ll move the most units? It’s: What’s out there that the Shed folks think is really cool, that Shed customers will really get excited about, THAT’LL MOVE THE MOST UNITS. That’s why we say it’s “curated.” We don’t sell crap in the Shed, at least not on purpose.

    2. Makers vary in skill level between say Highlights and IEEE Transactions and Proceedings, and Make tries to cover that vast area in between. I think the staff and contributors do a very decent job at that. For an experienced engineer and maker most Make magazine articles/projects are a fun read, but inspirational at best. For most adult non-makers, most Make magazine articles would be too advanced.

      If you want higher level hobbyist material, I’d suggest also picking up a copy of Circuit Cellar/Elektor/et al. I do. In the mean time, I am happy that Make covers the parent/kid maker segment. My 5yr old mini-Maker and I thank you.

  1. I gotta disagree with you Bobs your uncle. A lot of the stuff that may be considered kid things are still the foundation for lots of adult projects. The fact that Make is encouraging adults to work with kids is great! I don’t think a month dedicated to kids will take Make the direction of Highlights Magazine.
    Not only are kids like sponges, but they’re also ripe with ideas and uninhibited!

    1. Disagree with Uncle Bob

      I gotta disagree with you Bobs your uncle. A lot of the stuff that may be considered kid things are still the foundation for lots of adult projects. The fact that Make is encouraging adults to work with kids is great! I don’t think a month dedicated to kids will not take Make the direction of Highlights Magazine.
      Not only are kids like sponges, but they’re also ripe with ideas and uninhibited!

  2. >evangelization of MakerShed products

    From what I can tell, 10% or fewer of the articles on the make blog are commercially oriented, and this has been fairly consistent from the beginning.

    If the people running the makershed notice cool stuff on the make blog and add it to the store, I think that it’s an okay procedure. (And I’ll still have that opinion if the Makershed decides to stop carrying our products.)

    >Bre being part of Makerbot, and Make jumping to the defense of
    >EMSL against a publisher that competes in the educational books
    >market counts

    Years ago, Bre left Make and started Makerbot. If anything, I would have expected residual bitterness over the split to be the issue here, not nepotism. Do you *really* think that Make should specifically avoid publishing projects that people send in about their makerbots, just because Bre used to work there?

    As for EMSL, I’m not sure what you’re saying. It *sounds* like you are an (anonymous) publisher of books that compete with Make, and you’d like some exposure. I’d guess that letting Make know about your books might be a step in the right direction, rather than just making off-the-wall comments.

    >Report on what was happening in the community […]
    >Point to the vast, active entrepreneurial community […]
    >Steer people to the long active CNC diy world rather[…]

    Wow– are you reading the same blog and magazine as me? Just… wow. I read this every day. Make reports on what people in the DIY world are doing. Huge, huge amounts of stuff from little tiny startups, all over world (well, the US, mostly!), huge numbers of DIY CNC projects (including makerbots), and on and on. They’re doing *exactly* what you are suggesting, and pretty darned well, too. If you want to get hung up on the articles that you don’t like, that’s your business, but you actually seem to be suggesting that they keep doing what they’re doing.

    Other blogs that I read covering DIY tech also get similar complaints, right down to the kiddy stuff. Why? Because they’re reporting on *what people are actually doing.* People send in their projects, or blog about them, and Make picks it up. If they wanted to steer it, maybe they’d put a stop to this, actively limiting the number of makerbot or steampunk submissions that were allowed per week.

    >Remember how long Arduino got ignored when you were pushing the Make Controller?

    Funny, I first learned about Arduino, and all the excitement behind it, from Make. I think that they were as happy to report about it as everyone else.

    > In short, stop acting like there was no community before Make.
    >You are a media outlet reporting on what has been happening in garages
    >and sheds for hundreds of years.

    Antique and forgotten technology is a recurring theme in the magazine and blog, since the very first issue. I don’t see that they’re ignoring this at all. I’ve been building stuff long before Make came around, and I bet you have too. I don’t see Make trying to get me to ignore that.

    >If you try to control it you will lose it and become another Popular Science
    >waiting to be picked off.

    From where I’m standing, they’re trying to report on what’s going on, connect people together, and make money doing so, selling kits and books that they like (including ours) as part of that effort. I can’t see much “steering” at all.

    >There is a difference between saying ‘here is something kids could do’ and having a
    >children themed Maker Faire.

    There was kid-oriented stuff at the first makerfaire, and more at the most recent makerfaire. But there was *a lot* more stuff that wasn’t kid oriented, too. Like the magazine, it seems to have grown in proportion. If you went to a “children themed makerfaire” it certainly wasn’t the one that I attended.

    The whole DIY community –make included– has a big educational component. Every how-to and tutorial article is fundamentally educational. And, much of it *is* stuff that can be done by people across a wide range of ages. To draw a line, suddenly saying that people below age 35 (or whatever age you’d pick) don’t deserve to learn this stuff is counterproductive, in my opinion.

  3. I was going to respond to this at length, but I think Windell hit all of what I would’ve said.

    BobsYourUncle, I suspect that no amount of arguing with you is going to convince you of where our priorities are, what motivates us, how we conduct our business, etc. You seem to have a far more Machiavellian view of what’s going on than we do.

    For instance, the MakerBot situ that Windell mentions. Bre left MAKE, started a company (that we have no involvement in), called MakerBot. What did we do? We put him on the cover of the magazine! Why? Because what he’s doing is significant to the DIY (whatever you care to call it) movement. (And, BTW, MAKE does not sell the Makerbot.)

    And we also regularly promote the content and contests of our direct “competitors,” such as Sparkfun, Adafruit, Pololu, Solarbotics, etc.

    I, as the editor of this site, believe in covering what’s going on in the length and breath of the DIY/hacking/making world. I want us to cover that regardless of the greater commercial concerns of Maker Media. Our commercial interest as a web publication is to cover what’s happening, to offer the best content to our readers. And that’s what we try and do.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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