What is a Maker Faire?
Is that like a Renaissance Faire? Um, not exactly. You might find some overlap in people, but the intent is very different. A Maker Faire is all about making, and by “making” I mean any sort of inventive creating that a person does. Usually this involves a blending of art, technology, inspiration, and determination. Whatever you see on display will be accompanied by the object’s maker. Pretty cool, huh?
So what is a Maker Ed Convening?
At its heart, the Maker Movement is about empowerment. As educators, we want to engage our students in their learning, and being a maker means taking this one step further towards a sense of agency for one’s learning. As choice is powerful, ownership of one’s choice is even more so. The Maker Ed Convening is about creating a sense of agency among educators for advancing maker education within their classrooms, schools, and communities. This is accomplished through a vibrant mix of networking, keynote speakers, demos, ignite talks, brainstorming sessions, and more networking. All in the span of a jam-packed 24 hours spent in Oakland, California at The Crucible (a maker location).
So how did I End up There?
Funny story. So, ever since I saw my first 3D printer I’ve been convinced of the educational power of this resource. Prohibitively expensive for most at the moment, the technology’s time will come. We are fortunate enough to run several at my school. We’ve invested in MakerBot due to the strong educational community and focus. So I’ve communicated with several MakerBot representatives over the years as we try to figure out what effective 3D printing curriculum looks like at the elementary level. They not only brought the Convening to my attention, but strongly encouraged me to go with their support. This ended up being a very serendipitous unfolding of circumstances for me.
My Main Takeaways
My takeaways are many. This educational movement is still in its infancy. There are a variety of entry points where people have plugged in, but the desire to create and take ownership over one’s creative environment is universal. There is no one right way, material, or technology for making, but the focus is on the creative design process itself. The community is also caring, compassionate, and collaborative. They value so called “soft skills” that go beyond the hard but necessary skills found in our standards.
The goal is success for everyone. This leads to a very generous spirit where people are interested in win-win scenarios. There is no schadenfreude, and the outcome captures the rare maximum return on investment found in Nash’s quintessential Game Theory Problem: The Prisoner’s Dilemma. This leans forward into closing the opportunity gap among traditionally underserved populations. Equal access for all. Meeting communities where they are at so that no two maker programs look the same because the local needs are different; even if the spirit is universal.
Additionally, we as a society have a looming problem in regards to the middle class and the lack of equity for employment. Robotics is a revolution that stands to increase production but at the potential cost of leaving many behind without employment. If we recreate ourselves as a society into makers and operate at the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy as creators, then we stand to realize equitable win-win gains for all. All of this can be leveraged effectively across the Maker Movement, and via our schools within the context of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)… especially the new NGSS engineering standards. But we have to connect the “people” dots to make this happen.
Click here to play video: Maker Networking Map
Ultimately, effective education comes down to passionate people. One of the greatest accomplishments of “No Child Left Behind” is proving without a doubt what happens when passion for learning is supplanted by punishment: not only is the joy sucked out of the profession but so are many of our best and brightest. The damage is done, but we are now moving beyond the ashes. Coming full circle, we are arguably experiencing the early stages of a renaissance in education. The teacher leader movement is finally emerging like a phoenix, and what’s more powerful than a teacher leader? Two teacher leaders, then three, then four, and so on and so forth. I met many bright teacher leaders at this convening of like-minded individuals. Passionate people that are going to change the face of education. My job now is to not only maintain my new network of amazing educators, but to grow it.
Shout out and special thank you to Danny and Jessica and all of the Maker Ed Convening Crew that helped everything come together, supported all of the presenters and demonstrators, and made this event happen! They even let me use their logo as the title image for this blog post. You all are awesome!
Seven quotes from the Maker Ed Convening courtesy of the Twitterverse
Nichole Pinkard quote courtesy of @MeenooRami: “A society’s definition of what it means to be literate is inextricably tied to technological innovations of the time.”
Nichole Pinkard quote courtesy of @kenierichards: “Learning is a lifestyle connected to identity.”
Pam Moran quote courtesy of @mr_isaacs: “We need to get to yes in terms of risk taking in schools or we will be stuck where we’ve been for decades.”
Pam Moran quote courtesy of @Indeutsch: “Makerspace is not a destination. It’s a way of thinking…”
Karen Wilkinson quote courtesy of @jks71: “Making and sense making go hand in hand.”
S. Craig Watkins quote courtesy of @jks71: “Making matters more when it’s networked and connected to the community.”
S. Craig Watkins quote courtesy of @wyld_peace: “A lot of our schools are now tech rich, but they are still curriculum poor. Let’s fix this.”
Checking in with Twitter for Info
Ten Twitter handles in no particular order: @MakerEdOrg, @craigyen, @pammoran, @mr_isaacs, @claire_ohl, @TheCrucible, @makemuseum, @npinkard, @pronovost, @troycline
Ten Twitter hashtags in no particular order: #MakerEdConvening, #MakerFaire, #MakerEd, #makerspace, #library, #tinkering, #Making, #PassionEDU, #relevance, #WATeachLead
Additional Resources & Connections:
Wikipedia Definition for a Sense of Agency: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense_of_agency
Maker Ed Website: http://makered.org/
Website for the host of the 2016 Maker Ed Convening: http://thecrucible.org/
Maker Ed Convening Website: http://makered.org/pd-events/maker-educator-convening-2016/
Maker Ed Resource Library: http://makered.org/resources/
Maker Ed Online Professional Development: http://makered.org/pd-events/online-pd/
Presentations & Resources from the Convening: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B4Bh2KBatRLOcjduczgydzEwSGc&usp=sharing
Maker Faire Website: http://makerfaire.com/
MakerBot Educational Blog: http://www.makerbot.com/blog/category/makerbot-education
NGSS Engineering Design Standards for Grades 3-5: http://www.nextgenscience.org/topic-arrangement/3-5engineering-design
Blog Post about Robotics & STEM Education: http://corelaboratewa.org/robotics-is-the-gateway-drug-to-hooking-kids-on-stem-and-the-ngss/
Blog Post about Evolving Computer Labs into STEM Labs with a Maker Space: http://corelaboratewa.org/transforming-computer-labs-into-stem-m-labs/