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TOOLS FOR LEARNING - The Maker Movement Matures--3D Printing, Serious Play, and More

By Victor Rivero - Posted Dec 1, 2017
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What is this thing called the “maker movement?” And what makes it a movement? Why all the buzz? In brief, it’s at the very least a technology-influenced, do-it-yourself (DIY) community of interest. Reveling in invention, prototypes, and tinkering, people participating in this movement do so through projects, clubs, faires, and festivals.

Back in 2006, publishers of Make magazine in the San Francisco Bay Area launched Maker Faire, a wide-open, family-friendly event, by no means the only such festival but perhaps a recent chief instigator. Schools and educators have taken to the movement’s model quite naturally, as it’s very much at the intersection of theory and practice, of study and fun: of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM.

Given that so much palpable creation is concerned, there is even an artistic element to it. Perhaps the real universal appeal to it, the common thread that makes the maker movement such an easy draw, is the same spirit of innovation that makes Thomas Edison a hero, or building with LEGOs such fun: The only prerequisite is an admirable dose of persistence. The rest is fueled by an innate human curiosity into how things work, making them work, and creating and building things of use. You might say this movement picked up steam just a decade ago, although one glance at the “steampunk” subgenre seen in movies and literature reveals a familiar, maker-looking world deriving even earlier from the likes of H.G. Welles (who died in 1946) and Jules Verne (who died in 1905), and even Mary Shelley (for some context, she lived until 1851, and she quite literally described building a certain three-syllable-named monster using technology back in the early 1800s).

The current trend might very well be a factor of a magazine to spur a movement within the instantaneous nature of social media to spread trends, to network people already gathering into a community of interest. In any case, since prehistoric days, people have always had a bone to pick with this physical world—quite literally. Somewhere, some human picked up an old bone and created tools. (Stanley Kubrick masterfully depicted so much of this evolution in the opening of scenes of the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.) I would say although the maker movement is as strong as ever, it’s really not really a trend at all. Its fire was lit at the beginning of time when, as described in Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from Mount Olympus and gave it to humankind. The universal appeal of tinkering, creating, making, playing, and learning along the way is an eternal flame that humans in search of something greater will never extinguish.

COMPANIES, PRODUCTS, TOOLS

In 2017, we’re just getting much better at it! On that note, here’s a whole host of tools and resources in this wonder-filled area of life:

RobotLAB brings smart and useful robots into the classroom, plus it’s one of the first STEM and coding platforms for hands-on learning in the classroom. robotlab.com

Home of Dash & Dot robots, these are easy-to-use apps, engaging resources, and hands-on play, all from Wonder Workshop. https://education.makewonder.com

At Sphero Edu, find not only a toolset for coding and 21st-century skills, but robotics and STEAM-oriented activities for students. sphero.com

Launched to support the drone revolution happening in academic institutions across the world, check out Parrot Education. edu.parrot.com

LEGO Education means creative exploration from one of the most familiar companies in the world. education.lego.com/en-us

Maker Faire–Education is an excellent place for teachers to stay aware of what’s happening opportunity-wise for K–12 learning. makerfaire.com/education


Here are few of the best organizations for coding:

MakerBot is empowering today’s students to become the innovators of tomorrow and literally brings a student’s ideas into 3D reality. makerbot.com/education

Maker Labs is Vancouver’s answer to the maker movement, a 26,000-square-foot space with tools, skills—and people. makerlabs.com

Go to Makerspaces.com to learn “What Is a Makerspace?” makerspaces.com/what-is-a-makerspace

MakerZone is filled with projects, tutorials, and more, all very interesting. makerzone.mathworks.com

This is a summer camp for kids to explore, make, and create. makercamp.com

Droid inventors wanted! littleBits makes a classic sci-fi movie a new reality. littlebits.cc

Tinkercad creates 3D digital designs and includes a gallery of things. tinkercad.com

SparkFun incites people to “start something,” and they have plenty to choose from. learn.sparkfun.com

Thinkabit Lab is a unique place brought to you by Qualcomm and some very smart people who care about the future. thinkabitlab.com

Microduino provides simple-to-use electronic building blocks. microduinoinc.com

Piper provides computer kits for kids. buildpiper.com

Tynker is coding for kids. tynker.com

Instructables, a cool crafts resource, helps kids make anything. instructables.com

There’s an oft-used inspiring and perhaps comical quote (for the image it may evoke of a well-meaning teacher or parent running after a hard-to-handle runaway student) from Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw: “What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.” With the products and people, the companies and resources above, knowledge is clearly something that children (of all ages!) are pursuing with relentless and easy passion.

Perhaps the maker movement has matured. Our technologies certainly have. But not in the sense of a “mature” (read: boring!) adult. A spirit of playfulness keeps the movement forever young. So, how about you? Are you willing to have a look, extend your hand, and reach out for a little bit of learning? If you are, be forewarned; from all indications, you’ll never let go!

Contact Victor at victor@edtechdigest.com


SERIOUS PLAY

This sector is vaguely maker-related, but branches more specifically into games for learning or game-based learning (including video games and simulators). Developers and designers can learn more about Serious Play Events here: seriousplayconf.com.

FESTIVALS, GATHERINGS, COMPETITIONS

Maker Faire California, Illinois, New York, and dozens of other locales is the “greatest show and tell on Earth.” Check it out here: makerfaire.com.

Canada’s Maker Festival in Toronto is a month-long series of events: makerfestival.ca.

Here’s what Europe is up to: europeanmakerweek.eu.

Check out the U.K.’s discussion on the maker movement, with events: makerassembly.org .

RECOMMENDED MAKER BOOKS

Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing Our Schools, Our Jobs, and Our Minds by Dale Dougherty with Ariane Conrad (North Atlantic Books, 2016)

Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager (Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, 2013)

Hackerspaces: Making the Maker Movement by Sarah R. Davies (Wiley, 2017)

Make, Learn, Succeed: Building a Culture of Creativity in Your School by Mark Gura (ASCD, 2016)

The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers by Mark Hatch (McGraw-Hill Education, 2013)

Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson (Crown Business, 2012)

Zero to Maker: Learn (Just Enough) to Make (Just About) Anything by David Lang (Maker Media, 2013)

OTHER MAKER RESOURCES, ARTICLES, AND INFORMATION

“The Case for a Campus Makerspace” by Audrey Watters hackeducation.com/2013/02/06/the-case-for-a-campus-makerspace

“In the Company of Makers” by Susie Armstrong edtechdigest.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/in-the-company-of-makers

Make It @ Your Library: makeitatyourlibrary.org

“Maker Movement” by Sandeep Hiremath edtechdigest.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/maker-movement

“The Maker Movement: Tangible Goods Emerge From Ones and Zeros” by Chris Anderson. wired.com/2013/04/makermovement

“Maker Resources Rule!” by Mark Gura edtechdigest.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/maker-resources-rule

“Why the Maker Movement Is Important to America’s Future” by Tim Bajarin time.com/104210/maker-faire-maker-movement


 
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