Friday, April 04, 2014

Just Play: The Maker Education Movement

By Erin Quinn
You may have heard the words "Maker Education" recently in the education field. The maker movement focuses on the design process, and allowing students to learn by doing. It reaches into disciplines like science, technology, engineering, art, music, and even tinkering and do-it-yourself-ing.
Making has always been a part of the way kids learn in my classroom, but the maker education movement becoming more a part of the mainstream education conversation has helped affirm the fact that this kind of learning is useful and valuable.
My school board, the Calgary Board of Education, has recently offered a series of making workshops for teachers. I have signed up for every single one of them. The way the workshops have been structured speaks volumes about the way this kind of learning must be done: the majority of the workshops were allowing us, as teachers, to play and get our hands on the various tools for learning through making.
This has reminded me of the importance of we, as educators, in experiencing the kind of creativity we wish to inspire in our kids. It is so important for us to put ourselves in the same positions we are asking of our students. We need to play, too. We need to tinker, too. This type of learning is an inquiry in itself.
Here's what I made in the workshops I've taken.
I learned how to use conductive thread to connect an LED light to a battery.

And I learned how to wet felt roving wool to make a felted bowl.

I made a car from a rapid prototyping system called Open Beam.

I played with an electronics system called Little Bits.

I learned how to use an Arduino system to make a motor go.

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