During this past summer, while stealing moments of solitude when my little boys were napping, I read “The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers and Tinkerers” by Mark Hatch, CEO of TechShop. I was intrigued reading about the examples of successful entrepreneurs and “average joe” makers who now are able to access expensive tools or use simply have access to space to make ideas real. Reading about the maker movement is one thing…but also experiencing the maker movement is another…(I highly recommend both).
Rushing to the Telus Spark Science Centre for my Saturday volunteer shift as a “Maker Care Helper”, I arrived to a big crowd of people exiting the entrance. I quickly saw the fire alarm lights informing people to evacuate. My first thought was, “ahh man, I can’t go in and see what all this hype of the “Maker Movement” is really all about. (I will also admit this was quickly followed by “Well, at least I have an excuse for being late…”). A calm and assertive speaker voice blared “Methane Gas has been detected in the building…” and then instructed people to get away from the building. I smiled to myself and thought…couldn’t be a true Maker Faire without a little pushing of the oxygen content boundaries, could it?
After an hour of waiting in the beautiful sun, my husband Mark and I we were finally allowed in! With my “Maker Care” pass and Maker red t-shirt, we were ready to go. First job, water dispenser to the makers! We began our tour handing out water bottles and sure enough, third booth in, ran we ran into a past student!
Shortly after handing out that stack of water bottles, I could no longer hold back the urge to ask questions to various Markers at each booth. Okay…let’s be honest…it really started right away when we spotted Sara, a former student we had both taught. She has now graduated from High School and is focused on being a Costumer Designer, spending her time making outfits and drawing unique anime themed designs. Always fascinating to see past students years later and hear where life has taken them. Located beside her booth was a young boy named Joe, 10 feet off the ground, standing on top of a giant catapult he had created. A magnificent grin on his face. As I wandered the faire, I asked many questions and listened to the fascinating stories of the diverse array of makers at the Calgary Maker Faire.
I chatted with the innovators of Tactalis, a sensory based computer that provides the visually impaired the ability to use a touchscreen by sense of touch and sounds. Fantastic way to make touch screens inclusive for all and I wish them all the best of luck as they grow their business. Next, a long table from the Calgary Public Library was buzzing with kids making duct tape pens out of recycled magazines. Such a simple project, but to visually witness how excited kids are to just “make” something always makes me smile. So as Educators, what if we integrated the chance to “make” something within all our outcomes? Not just design thinkers but design doers?.
I’ve noticed a trend of tweeting and blogging about “Making” and the “Maker Movement” and questions on how to integrate into mainstream Education. However, I would argue “creating” or “making” has been a focus for many Educators for decades…classes such as Art, Shop, Fashion, Music, and Cooking (to name just a few) have been focused on fostering creativity and the idea of “making” for students. Yet sadly, these courses can be deemed less “important” than Math and Science and as we know, the Fine Arts are often the first to get “cut”. While I don’t think “Making” is a new concept…I do believe everyone has the capability to make an idea real. It was a great day and I am happy that the MakerFaire is exposing more people to the infinite possibilities creating forms.
Taking an original idea from your imagination and making it real…the infinite possibilities…what can be more exciting than asking, “what if?”