Packaging the Maker Movement for Kids


 

The Maker Movement

Written by Beverly Davis

 

The Maker Movement entered mainstream awareness around 2005 and in that same year, Dale Cougherty founded Make Magazine, a magazine for the makers and the Do-It-Yourself audience.  When describing the “Maker Network,” Cougherty says, “…makers have a sense of what they can do and what they can learn to do. Like artists, they are motivated by internal goals, not extrinsic rewards.” He continues, “They are inspired by the work of others. Most importantly, they do not wait until the future to create and make. They feel an urgency to do something now— or lose the opportunity to do it at all. “

That spirit resonates with the work that we do at SPARK!  It’s that flexible and inspired way of thinking that children so desperately need to build the path to their future.  Maker Spaces have been popping up across the country. While most spaces are focused on adults, some spaces offer admission for teenagers and others provide summer camps for kids.  Truly progressive schools are incorporating these spaces for students at their facilities.

The affordability of new technology such as 3D printers and laser cutters, combined with collaborative online learning tools, allow more of us the ability to engage our impulse to create. Getting this technology in the hands of children will make learning more fun and relevant, while piquing their interests in problem solving.

 

“The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge.” —Seymour Papert. 

 

Papert was South African-born American mathematician. A computer scientist and educator, he spent most of his career teaching and researching at MIT. He was one of the pioneers of artificial intelligence and of the constructionist movement in education.

Papert believed that “Children deserve rich experiences across the widest range of disciplines available.” 

Here at SPARK! we agree.  Our mission is to ignite the spark of creativity inherent in all children. We’ve always believed that the best way to do that is to give children hands-on, practical experience in a wide variety of creative disciplines.

Papert points out the obvious tie between art forms and STEM education, stating, “Music composition is often required in programming a computer game or making your robot dance. Oral presentation skills are necessary for pitching your invention or in narrating your film. Artistic skills, creativity and curiosity are in high-demand by any project, no matter how technical.”

In August, we’ll introduce the SPARK! Creator Studio, to provide year-round, creative learning opportunities for youth. The SPARK! Creator Studio combines the equipment of a Maker Space with the technology of a Computer Lab and the materials in a Tinker Studio, to allow children to work on projects inspired by their own passions and interests.

An instructor will be on-hand to provide training on each piece of technology and equipment and will serve as a mentor to the students, providing help and feedback as needed. Participants will have the opportunity to earn digital badges as they learn to master software and technology.  In addition to the primary instructor/mentor, a rotating schedule of expert and professional guest instructors and lecturers will host classes and workshops that deliver insight and advice on a broad array of creative disciplines.

The goals of “learning by making” is to develop and increase student skills and confidence in the creative process through critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and self-management.  In the Creator Studio, the focus on education is a focus on the process while working toward an outcome or product.  When children engage in passion projects and combine this with peer review and collaboration, they are more interested and involved.  The learning is integrated and comes naturally through the projects they inspire and create.  The SPARK! Creator Studio will allow children to understand what they are truly capable of doing.

 

What’s available in the Metroplex for kids?

 

SPARK! Creator Studio in South Side on Lamar

Equipment: Both Apple and PC computers and tablets, IPad Airs, Software for music and digital recording and to drive all technology. Digital wood cutting equipment, 3D printer, two recording booths, 4/C silk screen press, large kiln, printers, industrial sewing machine, vinyl cutter, 3D pens, robotics, microcontrollers and access to all visual art supplies.

Staff: One full time coordinator, part time staff as required, rotating schedule of mentors, certification and digital badges

Programming: Opening the week of August 20, 2018: 4pm-7pm Sunday – Thursday, for students age 10 through high school; programming is free; however students and parents must sign contract for participation and rules of membership. One hour of community service required for every 5 hours of programming received.

 

Best Buy Teen Tech Center @ Juanita Craft Recreation Center

Equipment: bank of computers with Adobe Cloud Suite, large printer, sewing station, vinyl cutter , 3D printer , recording studio, Legos

Staff: One full time, one part time, mentors are difficult to arrange

Programming: 3pm-5pm for elementary kids, 5pm-7pm for middle and high school;

 

The Forge at Denton Public Library

Equipment: Mix of desktop computers, 3D printers, regular printer, resource library, software, supplies for Arduino, supplies for video & music production, Lego Mindstorms, Knex, Little Bits, two large presentation screens connected to desktop

Staff: tech librarian, business services librarian

Programming: Free to public during open hours, workshops required to run equipment, classes, charge for filament, paper

 

Techie Factory 5600 W. Lovers Lane

Equipment: 2 & 3D printers, sewing machine, Cricut, Macbooks, craft materials

Staff: Facilitator, part time adult helpers, teen helpers

Programming: Summer camps, after school labs

 

Walsh Makerspace W. Fort Worth

Equipment: woodworking equipment, computer design software, 3D printers, laser cutter, robotics lab, electronics lab, Lego wall, Makey Makey invention Kit.

Staff: unstaffed, offering classes and advanced operation of tools in the spring.  Plans to host regular programs for local student groups – Aledo ISD

Programming: Kid friendly methods to create

 

Dallas Makerspace

Equipment: 3D printers, automotive tools, sewing machines, vinyl cutters, electronics,  multi-meters, kilns, soldering tools, mills, saws and laser cutters

Staff: volunteer, membership-based organization

Programming: year-round classes taught by community members. Designed for adults.

 

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