Making Is So Elementary

Education Makerspace
Making Is So Elementary

The Kids Are Like Me.”

Until she got to college, Julie Darling didn’t realize that sitting and listening to teachers wasn’t how she learned best. She didn’t like sitting still. She had to keep her hands moving, if not her body. When she became an educator, she realized that the kids that she was looking at in her class were “just like me.” They wiggled and fidgeted in their seats.

Julie is a Media Specialist at A2 Steam, a public K-8 school in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She has built a makerspace for kids and understands the kinds of activities and projects that engage students, even fidgety ones. Her new book is “Social-Emotional Learning Using Makerspaces and Passion Projects: Step by Step Projects and Resources for Grades 3-6.” The book really was a passion project of her own, going through several different publishers and requiring five years from inception to completion. Her emphasis on social-emotional learning is timely, as kids who are coming back to school following Covid need something more engaging than a teacher doing all the talking. Julie believes that making encourages children to become good learners and it can help students learn about themselves and others.

I asked Julie for examples of things she had made. She gave me three examples:

I made a table from raw lumber so that I could learn more about using power tools (shown above).

I built this 3D printer with a team of two other staff members – so we could do 3D printing with the kids.

I soldered this square wave oscillator to learn more about soldering – this was a workshop through the Ann Arbor District Library (shown above).

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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.

View more articles by Dale Dougherty