Maria Carrillo Maker Camp


What’s better than kids making? Kids AND teachers making!

In late July and early August, three teachers at Maria Carillo High School in Santa Rosa, Calif. held a three-week Maker Camp for a small group of its high-schoolers on campus. Margie Bradylong, Maggie Swarner, and Catherine Borchert (math, science, and art teachers, respectively) collaborated on creating a program that introduced their students to a wide variety of projects and ideas, while also allowing them to time and space to take their own individual ideas and make them into something real and tangible.

Maria Carrillo MC 2013

Midway through camp, there were 8-10 projects simultaneously being developed in the art classroom, outside on the patio, and in the nearby theater woodshop. Paper automata and some of the cutest solar-powered jitterbots covered the countertops, and medals, ribbons, and trophies celebrated the week’s past successes. Students were perched crookedly on desks, fixing their boot-kick stage in their Rube Goldberg machines, while others were perfecting their marble run and sprawled across the floor, measuring furniture dimensions. A few girls proudly showed off their jigsaw-cut, curved wood pieces for a rocking chair, while another pair pondered how to tweak wire crates. A trio of girls stared down some wooden pallets, thinking about how to rework them into chairs. A halfway-disassembled exercise bike sat in the shade, awaiting some additional thoughts on how to add a blender.

Maria Carrillo jitterbot

Maria Carillo MC design notebook

Maria Carillo MC measuring    Maria Carillo rocking chair

And the teachers? They were grinning, minds racing and hands busy. Margie worked closely with one of her students to help design and create (and troubleshoot!) a made-from-scratch, adjustable wooden lounge chair with clear acrylic sides. But before it was all perfect, there were ends to be aligned and pieces to be drilled and screwed securely. And Catherine worked through sketches and plans with another student, figuring out materials and tools.

Maria Carrillo MC drilling
Maria Carrillo MC tshirt robot
Maria Carrillo’s Maker Camp allowed these teachers the time and impetus to make; they made a program, they learned and made alongside their students, and they sparked excitement in new teachers and students, creating a precedent for interdisciplinary collaboration — and of course, future MAKE programs. This work was also a continuation of the efforts that Maggie and Margie put forth in 2012-2013, as they had spent much of the past academic year working on integrating making into their classes, which include everything from biology to calculus. They co-led an after-school Make club as well, doing everything from Squishy Circuits to sewing t-shirt bags. Now, as the academic year begins, they are excited to share their knowledge and spread making further.

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Stephanie is the program developer for education at Maker Media. She has worked in STEAM education for years now, previously running The Tech Museum Summer Camps, and spends her time making new digital and tangible connections in the world of ed.

View more articles by Stephanie Chang