Maker Faire as Learning Lab

Maker Faire as Learning Lab

ClassPack-coverWe’re delighted to announce a new addition to this year’s Maker Faire educational offerings: a Class Pack filled with behind-the-scenes information and activity sheets designed just for you: teachers and parents who look forward to Maker Faire as your favorite learning-packed weekend of the year! Whether or not you are coming to our sold out Education Day on Thursday, May 16, take a peek for materials that you might want to use in your classroom. We’d like to share some of the special treats you’ll find in this 38-page booklet.

A Recipe for a Maker Faire

We have swung open the doors of our maker pantry and listed a good number of the ingredients that go into our recipe for Maker Faire, which feeds the imaginations of 120,000 visitors and 900 Makers.

We took our delicious DIY feast and came up with some challenging scenarios you can use to prompt a discussion with your kids. Get the Maker Faire Recipe card, and find the Maker Faire Planner Challenge ideas on page 21 the Class Pack.


Print Am I a Maker?

This paint-by-Makers activity, best for second grade and up (just because of the vocabulary we use in the game,) reveals an “M” for just about anyone who is human, not an android, etc., so we expect everyone in your classroom to end up feeling like “everyone is a maker.” Get the Am I a Maker? worksheet individually, or on page 26 of the Class Pack.

Maker Faire Bingo


We have put together a grid of the kinds of experiences we hope you will have and the kinds of things we hope you will see during your visit to Maker Faire. (By the way, if you use this with students, please do what you can make sure that this “game” sparks interactions with makers rather than dampens them. Avoid running from maker to maker, trying to mark off all the boxes, cutting off  interactions with makers in order to check off another box, and in the end, winning the game, but missing the point.) Don’t forget to come up with a great making-related prize for the winner(s) of the game.


Light Up and Paint

We saw our friends from Intel prototyping this activity at an Open Make at the Lawrence Hall of Science this spring, and they shared it with us as part of their commitment to the Maker Education Initiative. The Light Up & Paint activity uses a simple LED light circuit and freely available software called Glow Doodle to let you paint with light. You can see some examples of what kids make in this activity above or in this video. Light Up & Paint introduces students to the basics of circuitry and also encourages creativity. It can be used as a stepping stone to further explorations of electronics and circuit building. Get the writeup of the activity individually or on page 19 of the Class Pack.

Wacky Project Brainstorm

MakeUpYourMind We’ve put together a sheet you can use to help  brainstorm a project your kids might create for Maker Faire. Sure, they might not do the exact project that results from this exercise, but we want to encourage divergent thinking and interdisciplinary projects. Combine “things the world needs” or “big problems to solve in the next 100 years or so”  with things you “like to make, do, or buy.” with the diverse themes of Maker Faire. In our example, you could put together “places for billions to live”, “chocolate” and “electronic music” by composing The Chocolate Factory Where I Live: A Sonata for Synthesizers. Or maybe a commercial jingle about houses made out of cacao tree bark. Let your imagination soar. The crazier the idea, the better the maker project of the future! Look at the Make Up Your Mind brainstorm sheet individually, or on page 32 of the Class Pack.

ConversationStartersConversation Starters

We’re pretty sure everyone appreciates a sincere question from an interested young person no matter how busy it gets at Maker Faire. We collected some common questions onto cards so that every kid in your group can have her “own” question to ask or so that a shy kid can have some cue cards for their questions. Print out the Conversation Starters master, or find it on page 29 of  the Class Pack.

  1. What’s the first project you can remember making as a kid?
  2. Did you have a mentor that helped get you into making?
  3. How long have you been working on this project?
  4. How do you get started on a project?
  5. What inspired you to start working on this?
  6. Where do you get your ideas?
  7. Do you hope to inspire other makers with your project?
  8. Are you trying to address a real-world problem?
  9. What’s your favorite tool?
  10. Will you make a business out of this or is it just for fun?
  11. Have you collaborated with others on this?
  12. What other maker projects inspire you?
  13. What does your workspace look like: at work? at home?
  14. Where do you hope this takes you? What do you plan to do in the future?
  15. Have you ever taught someone else how to make something?

Make Your Own Sketchbook

Encourage your students to make their own mini data notebook, science journal, or sketchbook to record what they see at Maker Faire. Instructions and black-and-white templates inspired by our Maker’s Notebook. Find our  book-making instructions on page 8 of the Class Pack and the templates for the cover, endpaper, inside pages and stickers in its final pages.


Other educational offerings

Educators’ Meetup, Thursday, May 16 (4-7pm): We are going to run out of space! See our invitation. It’s free and 200+ teachers made it a wonderful party in 2012. Don’t miss out on 2013. We have a full slate of fun, hands-on activities and projects, meant to get you making, take things home, refine your skills, share project and curriculum ideas, and learn about what other educators are doing with their students and in their classrooms.

Education Day, Thursday, May 16: SOLD OUT. If you want to be on our list to hear about our preview field trips the next time we offer them, add your name to our Maker Faire Education Community.

Teacher Tickets for Maker Faire: See our form for more information. Be ready to send us a photo and a short description of a project that you have created, either on your own, with your students, and/or in your classrooms.

Educational Discount: Maker Faire offers a 35 percent discount for qualified teachers and your students. If you would like discounted teacher ticket for Maker Faire Bay Area 2013, please fill out our form. You will need to verify that you teach 15 or more students in a classroom setting. Discounts cannot be combined with any other offer. Discount tickets must be purchased by May 17 (Midnight PST).

4 thoughts on “Maker Faire as Learning Lab

  1. Maker Faire as Learning Lab Sherry Huss says:

    Great tool Michelle and a wonderful resource for teachers and students (even if you can’t attend Maker Faire). Good stuff!

  2. Goli Mohammadi says:

    This is great Michelle! Parts of this kit would be awesome for teachers, whether they’re at the Faire or not. What a fun and useful resource!

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Michelle, or Binka, makes . While at Maker Media, she oversaw publications, outreach, and programming for kids, families, and schools. Before joining Maker Media in 2007, she worked at the Exploratorium, in Mitchel Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, and as a curriculum designer for various publishers and educational researchers. When she’s not supporting future makers, including her two young sons, Binka does some making of her own, most often as a visual artist.

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