Creating makers by bringing in the extracurricular into the curricular

This past week was national engineering week and part of many of the celebrations included the concept of being a maker.  So what does it mean to be a maker?

Wikipedia defines the maker culture as follows:  

“The maker culture is a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture. Typical interests enjoyed by the maker culture include engineering-oriented pursuits such aselectronicsrobotics3-D printing, and the use of CNC tools, as well as more traditional activities such asmetalworkingwoodworking, and traditional arts and crafts. The subculture stresses new and unique applications of technologies, and encourages invention and prototyping. There is a strong focus on using and learning practical skills and applying them creatively.”

Scott McLeod wrote an interesting blog about his son called My son is 8.  He’s a Maker.

As he blogs about his son, it reminds us that all of our students are makers.  The question we may have to ask ourselves is whether we are encouraging this in the classroom as often as we do outside of the classroom.  My own son is 8 and I can say he is also a maker.  He loves playing Minecraft because he is able to create new worlds, tree houses, and buildings.  My 5 year old is also a maker.  He dresses up in costume and creates imaginary battles, crafts forts with our furniture, and writes and sings songs about how he is defeating orcs from the Hobbit or battling creepers from Minecraft.  

Scott McLeod in the above Ted Talk asks…

“How do we take the extracurricular and turn it into the curricular?”

The Big Idea from Scott McLeod:
“So this is the big idea I’d like to leave you with.  If we want our in-school learning environments to be robust, technology-infused places, which they should be, then we have to give them something meaningful to work on, give them powerful devices and access.  Get out of their way and let them be amazing.”

So how do we create and foster our students to be makers and follow their passion?  One way is to integrate technology into our curriculum to provide meaning to their learning.  It is one thing to write an essay about a topic you are passionate about within a classroom;  it is entirely another experience to blog about it and have people from around the world contribute as well.

Sylvia’s Mini-Maker Show