Why Educators Love Maker Faire 2013

Briony Chown's fourth graders at Explorer Elementary in San Diego use woodworking to build a welcoming room for an immigrant from a different time period, using primary interview research with recent immigrants.
Briony Chown’s fourth graders at Explorer Elementary in San Diego use woodworking to build a welcoming room for an immigrant from a different time period, using primary interview research with recent immigrants.

Teachers love Maker Faire because they see how much it means to engage their students as makers. For Teacher Appreciation Week, we want to salute educators who bring the maker movement to kids in schools and in after-school programs. We believe making has the power to transform education and develop the potential of every child to create and innovate. Getting making into schools can be difficult so we’re particularly happy to applaud the efforts of pioneering educators who are leading the way. It’s important that these pioneers realize that they’re not alone.

“It’s great to hear back from others in the Maker movement,” one teacher writes us. “It gets a bit solitary at times without a lot of others in my school in this mindset.”

We invite teachers to come for free to Maker Faire in hopes that there is a growing number of them helping to bring this important change to education. They are a vital component of the maker community.

Teachers: Join our Educators’ Meetup  Thursday, May 16 (4-7pm). Sign up now because there are just a few spots left, and it’s free! Over 200 teachers made for a wonderful party in 2012, and we hope you can be a part of this year’s gathering.  You can also get free tickets to Maker Faire as well as get a preview of educational offerings at Maker Faire.

Geoff Gould at Oceana HS in Pacifica picked up the idea for "chain reaction" projects from the Exploratorium Teacher Institute. (http://exploratorium.edu/education/teacher-institute)
Physics teacher Geoff Gould at Oceana HS in Pacifica picked up the idea for “chain reaction” projects from the Exploratorium Teacher Institute.
Students of Nick Trainos at the George Harvey Collegiate Institute learn about design, measuring, and how television works while building their own HD TV antennae.
Students of Nick Trainos at the George Harvey Collegiate Institute learn about design, measuring, and how television works while building their own HD TV antennae.

But why do educators want to come to Maker Faire in the first place? Here’s some of what we heard from teachers over the past year about why they like making and Maker Faire:

  • My kids LOVED Maker Faire last year. They don’t have the opportunity to make–hardly ever. Since my students are from a low-income area, we don’t always have the resources and time to spend on project-based learning. This is still an area of growth for me as a teacher, but I love being able to take my kids to Maker Faire, at the very least. — Tiffany P., a middle school teacher in East Palo Alto
  • The students are natural tinkerers; they want to know how things work and why things are the way they are…. This year we opened the art room for a tinkering studio during recess on a student drop-in basis. Students made things from blimps to bots to other things they found in MAKE magazine. Ideally, projects I create encourage kids to see themselves as able to manipulate materials and make things. They explore different mediums as well as student’s identity. — Melita M., a middle school art specialist in Corte Madera
  • Students in my classes are very strong academically. They show their deeper understanding through hands-on projects, not just through traditional means such as testing and experiments. Projects also give students practice working in collaborative ways towards a common goal. “Making” allows students use their knowledge and skills to bring concepts to life. — Debbie C., an elementary school teacher in Cupertino
  • I love the inspiration that Maker Faire provides: it helps fuel our creative projects for months following! — Johanna D., a preschool and elementary homeschool teacher in Fremont
  • I am a school/clinical psychologist. One of our main strategies to help our students is to involve them in “making things”, ranging from art to crafts to models to gardening. Because of their emotional problems, and often learning problems as well, many of my students have faced years of academic failure. Making things helps them to feel competent, productive. They sometimes express emotions through arts and crafts. They often can feel part of a community of makers and/or can share what they have made with family. I sometimes do art therapy individually with the students. Making is a very valuable tool to help these adolescents feel competent and/or artistic and thus feel better about themselves. — a high school class therapist in the East Bay
  • We make as a way to connect after school, during down-time, etc. It’s nothing formal – no organized club or anything, but it’s turned out to be a great way to relate with some of the students. They see ways for us to solve problems (even if it’s not using the formal knowledge they’re working on in the classroom – they’re working on the same types of strategies). — Joe F., a high school math and science teacher in Georgia
  • I really enjoyed Maker Faire last year because I got to see a lot of innovation and ideas that I could bring back to my classroom. It also gave me ideas on where to help students foster creativity. It also helped me to start look at developing ideas to make the curriculum more accessible for my students through shrinkable cell models, career opportunities, adaptors that could make cell phones into microscopes. — Janet L., a  high school science teacher in Gilroy
  • I teach adult students who are not native speakers of English. Some have little formal education in their home countries; others have graduate and professional degrees. What all need is a reason to communicate in English. Projects and hands-on activities give students a reason to work together, increase their vocabulary and provide a safe way that the more and less educated students can be on the same level–all are beginning at the same point in the task. — Pam K., a college professor in Modesto
  • I love the creativity in making and find that it is vital for our students to learn how to be creative and imaginative. We have some very interested techie makers, but I would like to draw out more of the artistic makers, who may not consider themselves as such. I think it will be highly rewarding for them to make something that might also do something and for all students to see the importance of art in all of it. We are an all boys school, grades K-9, and we have lots of energy to dedicate to making the world a better place. — Joanne C., a classroom teacher, technology resource teacher and integrator in New York City
  • I have done the [biological] cell that I learned at Maker Faire two years ago, but I did it with polymer clay where they put the different colors together for the different parts then we cut it in half before I baked them! We did little wooden birdhouse for the holidays, as a decoration. They never got that it was math! (LOL) They had to measure each side and make templates to cut out their paper, figure the perimeter of the birdhouse, and how to cut the template so as to use as little paper as possible. Maker Faire had a project just like it at the field trip Friday my class attended. These students struggle with all learning. They think that school is unnecessary. It has taken most of this year with some of the things I have seen done at Maker Faire to get them to engage in discussing things of science and math. I thank you for that! Our school has a rocket club, but my students are not involved. To them it is too nerdy and not cool, but they now look forward to the thing I have brought to class for them! I am hoping to see new ideas this year. — a special education teacher in the Bay Area
  • I have found so many creative ideas every time I attend Maker Faire, and I love how everyone who attends, no matter what their age, has a great time learning and exploring. Hopefully, I’ll get to attend again this year! — Giselle V., a preschool and kindergarten teacher in Palo Alto
  • I always have felt that students need to be more engaged with their hands. Making things is something they seem to do naturally, and it would seem that giving them skills to “make” would further their abilities and in turn, our civilization. I think the future lies in encouraging kids to dream and make. — Gwen M., an elementary school teacher in Redwood City
  • Next week we’ll be making homemade playdough and goo. I pick projects that can easily be carried out in our classroom, and then replicated (or expanded) in the classrooms where my students work….I’m especially excited about all the great ideas I’ll get at this year’s Maker Faire. — Annemarie K., a preschool teacher and child development professor in San Francisco
  • What I love about Maker Faire is that it’s everything important: creativity, science, opportunity for families to make together, lots of resources, putting making, science, art, electronics, math, engineering, etc. all together. It makes sense/everything’s connected. We look forward to Maker Faire all year long and we tell everyone we know about it all year long. In my classes, I use the Maker attitude when I teach. Ignite creativity and imagination and connect projects to the world through inquiry. I teach art but more than that, I assist/support/facilitate the students to explore materials and invent with their knowledge and experience. My best projects are ones the students devise and expand on what I teach. They show me more in the world than I could imagine. I believe, when their minds “make,” they have arrived! — Nancy Gittleman , a preschool and elementary visual art teacher in San Francisco
  • I’ve been interested in 3d printing and electronics for a while. Last semester one of my students used an Arduino in his final project and it pushed me towards trying it out myself. I recently purchased a Printrbot 3d printer and have assembled it. I’m hoping to get some inspiration at the Maker Faire for projects and gather information about electronics projects and how feasible they are to do. — Stewart G., a professor of art and computer science in San Francisco
  • I love making and and requiring my students to make, because it’s FUN! From an educational standpoint, I have observed that the best design engineers are those with substantial experience making things. Most companies I know look to hire engineers with hands-on (i.e., ‘making’) experience. My students find that their term project, where they have to make a mechstronic system, is the best part of the course. Making is vitally important to a solid mechanical engineering education. — Burford F., a university engineering professor in San Jose

    Katie Topper’s students at the Julia Morgan School for Girls build and launch model rockets as part of their special day to honor female engineers.
  • What I love most about making is the individual creativity that occurs when given the same project. They all look different and they all look the same. We can all learn something about each person’s technique or vision. Art is so subjective that it makes life more interesting. — Joanne G., an art educator for adults in San Mateo
  • I am a teacher and crafter…. I can’t explain why ‘making’ things as part of the learning experience has been a part of my teaching, but it has, and my students’ responses to the various projects have been not only validating but have buoyed my teaching spirit…. Every time my students engage in these kinds of projects, their value is immediately evident. Students speak openly and to each other of the process, its goals, and its outcomes, and I am witness to a learning experience that is not only a broad sensory experience but a deep one as well. Thank you for what you have and continue to do. — Maggie L., a high school English teacher & facilitator in Santa Barbara
  • The projects and things we make are often driven by the required curriculum (such as our 3D cell models to show the structure and function of plant and animal cells) and sometimes driven by student interest or individual needs (such as a blueprint for an “array gun” created by a student trying to understand the relationship between multiplication and division… Of course we couldn’t actually build such a thing in a school setting.) What I love about making is that it allows kids to express their ideas in a creative, meaningful, and unique way. It solidifies learning and helps kids connect the dots! — Laura J., a K-8 special education teacher in Santa Clara
  • Kids love experiencing their world through all their senses and that’s what I love about teaching them to be Makers. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with my own father who still advises and supports my journey in so many ways. — Krissie O., a preschool and elementary homeschool teacher & facilitator in Santa Cruz
  • What we make depends on the lesson-theme for our 6-week units. For instance, when we studied Australia and the Aborigines, we made — and played — didgeridoos and made etchings in bark. I choose my projects based on how it will enrich the curriculum and, truly, cement the theme and lessons in their minds. I have found that kids are very hands-on, most kids any way. And if they can take home a project, and talk to their parents about it, it makes learning more meaningful. — Camilla M., a elementary school teacher in Seaside
  • I am a 3rd grade teacher, and I work in the same school that I went to when I was little. My commute is 45 minutes away, but at the end of the day, this is my home away from home. Our test scores are typically low, but it’s not that our teachers or students don’t try their hardest. Going to Maker Faire inspires me to bring science and math alive in my own classroom. If you were to look at test data, we are the lowest ranked elementary school in our district. We have a large Title I and second-language population. But if you were to come here in person, we are more than just statistics. Our kids are thoughtful in their interactions and in their discussions about text. Our kids make progress, just not according to another person’s timetable. I would love to make more things in the classroom. Our kids deserve it. Sometimes economics inhibits the ability to go outside your community, so sometimes experiences need to come to us to build their prior knowledge. Our test scores are typically low, but it’s not that our teachers or students don’t try their hardest. Going to Maker Faire inspires me to bring science and math alive in my own classroom. — a 3rd Grade teacher in Union City
  • I’ve used a lot of the ideas found at Maker Faire in my classroom. I tie projects into the curriculum to teach science and math concepts that might otherwise be difficult for students to comprehend. The hands-on approach of making helps students, especially tactile learners, to visualize and retain that information as they progress in their academic career. — Katherine T., a 1st Grade teacher in Union City
  • We have centered an entire 5-day trip to San Francisco around the Maker Faire as we feel it will allow the children to see the world of “making” as not linear. Making can happen in all shapes, sizes and forms. We are hoping that this experience will allow that special spark to grow even brighter. — Pam K., an elementary school teacher & administrator in Walnut
  • Teaching and learning is all about hands-on. We do as many learning activities as we can that put students in the center of “making” their learning. — Ivy P., a 3rd Grade teacher in Waterford
  • Maker Faire is great place for me to get ideas for projects for the students. I love encouraging the students to go and coming back on Monday to hear about how much they enjoyed it. — Christine C., a middle school English teacher in Berkeley

Read what educators said about what they love about making, makers, and Maker Faire in 2012 and 2011.

Carolyn Glaser's class followed up a geology unit with this art project, and then a writing project.
Carolyn Glaser’s class followed up a geology unit with this art project and then a writing project.

A Guide To Maker Faire for Educators

  • Download our new Class Pack for you to use in classrooms to talk about making and Maker Faire.
  • Attend Educators’ Meetup, Thursday, May 16 (4-7pm): We are going to run out of space! See our invitation. 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. Check out our new, fun, and educational  Class Pack.
  • Teacher Tickets for Maker Faire: See our form for more information if you’re an educator who wants to attend Maker Faire for free. 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).
  • Attend Friday’s How to Make a Makerspace Workshop on the grounds of Maker Faire in San Mateo.  There’s a fee to cover breakfast and lunch.  While not limited to educational makerspaces, you’ll learn about how to organize and implement makerspaces that serve a wide range of needs in the community.    Please register at: http://makerspacews.eventbrite.com/.   Learn more about the program.
  • Visit the Model Makerspace at Maker Faire to learn about creating spaces to inspire and engage young makers.
  • Check out the two designated Young Makers areas: one east of Expo Hall featuring the inspiring projects by over 150 Young Makers program participants, and the other at the top of the Midway, sponsored by Cognizant and dedicated to hands-on experiences.
  • Meet the team of Maker Education Initiative and check out the Make: Education stage, which offers a full lineup of talks, on a diverse range of topics from pre-K to through choosing a major in collegehosting Open Makes, enticing new makers with e-textiles, clubs, museums, storytelling through 3DP, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and a dozen more rich topics for discussion for teachers and parents.

We look forward to seeing lots of students and teachers at Maker Faire.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

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.

View more articles by Michelle "Binka" Hlubinka


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