Girl Making It with dough

Making has been everywhere lately. There are Maker Faires. People are using 3D printers to create all manner of their own inventions. And now there’s Maker Education.

What’s Making?

Lee Martin of the University of California-Davis describes it this way:

“Making refers to a class of activities focused on designing, building, modifying and/or repurposing material objects for playful or useful ends, oriented toward making a ‘product’ of some sort.”

If Making sounds like something kids would do if left to their own devices, that’s just about right. And Making can happen in the classroom with high-tech tools like 3D printers and electronics, but can be just as successful with supplies that kids, families and teachers pull out of the recycling bin. Making isn’t about the specific technology used or the product created. It’s about the process, which often looks like this:

• Children come up with their own idea for what they’d like to make
• They decide which of their available materials and tools will help them do the job
• They often collaborate with other children with lots of communicating back and forth
• They start to work and make lots and lots of mistakes!
• They’re given the chance to learn from their mistakes and to develop new strategies that might be more successful
• They are extraordinarily happy when they’ve finished the project of their own design.

Where are the teachers in all of this? The teacher is essential in Maker Education, not as the focus of the learning, but as the facilitator of the learning. Teachers create the Maker Spaces that give children the materials, workspace, collaborators, guidance and freedom to explore and make their own learning. And the principles of Making also fit very nicely with the new Next Generation Science Standards.

While Maker Education can be a great thing for all students, it can be especially effective for students with disabilities. Children who may have trouble being successful in the classroom are excited to try a new approach. Making involves using multiple senses and trying things that perhaps nobody has ever tried before – these are often strengths of students with disabilities. While it can be challenging to find the right kind of AssistiveTechnology for children who need it, it turns out that Making can be a kind of Assistive Technology… one that helps children – with guidance and care – to discover their own capacity to learn and create.

Ready to start Making? Learn more about it here.