Saturday, January 25, 2014

Maker 'STUFF"

In Chapter 8 of Invent to Learn,  Stager and Martinez offer a long list of stuff that a maker space should have for students to tinker with, design, or solve problems.  The one part of the list that could easily get looked over is 'arts and craft' materials.   You should ABSOLUTELY not skimp on these.

I would advocate that the Maker Space needs to be filled with  lots of colorful materials along with arts and craft stuff.  Don't limit your maker space to mechanical stuff  and electronic stuff.  The Google Maker Space - The Google Garage pulls you in and spews of creativity.  I would love all maker spaces to look like this.

The maker lab can be a real turn off to some who would benefit from it.
Also the Maker movement would benefit from some whom they might never attract.

I'm thinking of artistic students who are are attracted by color, shapes, textures.
I'm also thinking of female students who might not see themselves as a maker nor interested in the types of products they might associate with tinkering and making.

One of the things I still own is a set of Pico Crickets and all the idea cards that come with them.  They were amazingly effective in getting girls to 'make'.   Every year for summer camp  I would round up all types of colorful and unique materials that my 'campers'  could use to invent with.

The unique designs that came from this (from both girls and boys)  were amazing.  It reached a different type of student.  One that would not necessarily be attracted to the sensors,  motors, and alligator clips.

A few years ago I picked up some Lego Mindstorm kits and created a robotics center at Tech Savvy Girls camp.  The girls were NOT drawn to it even though it was lead by an amazing fun energetic young lady.  Reluctantly, a couple of girls agreed to be the first to give it a try.  We COULD NOT get them to stop and give the other girls a chance once they got going.  Several girls put Mindstorms on their Christmas wishlist that year.   We had a great debriefing session with the girls about their change of heart which ended up with them redesigning the LEGO box - they spiced up the font and made it more funky and colorful and added funky accessories.  I actually had the chance to give the pictures to some LEGO staff members who were visiting from Denmark at Tuft Universities STEM camp one summer.

Another experience that I'll never forget was the summer that I hired Tom Tailer to do an engineering strand for my TechSavvy Girls Leadership Camp.  Even though he was highly recommended, I really wanted a female role model for the girls.  Tom, a physics teacher from Mt. Abraham High School, turned out to be the perfect match and inspired girls to make the most amazing creative engineering projects.  When one girl imagined that the "bridge truss" she was making could be turned into a dollhouse for her younger sister, Tom pulled out colorful pieces of silk cloth she could use to finish it up with.  Another girl imagined a treehouse, and Tom came in the next day with a branch from a tree and inspired her design to completion.  

So as you equip your maker space,  make sure that there are plenty of arts and crafts materials mixed in with electronics and mechanical parts.   Remember that what pulls you in might not be what pulls others into the design cycle.  Encourage diversity in our maker space with the right stuff to attract all types of makers.

1 comment:

  1. Great ideas, and definitely something I may have over looked. We are building a maker space and I can't wait to add these elements. Thanks!