This weekend, the World Maker Faire came to New York city to celebrate its 75th anniversary. Among the tens of thousands in attendance was executive-in-residence at Georgia Tech’s Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship John Bare, who reported on the event for CNN. In a special report, he talks about his experience:
When 60,000 tinkerers arrive at the New York Hall of Science this weekend for World Maker Faire New York, kids will see original action figures designed on a 3-D printer, homemade race cars, robots and a sewing machine turned into a music box.
Teachers will see a chance to reimagine U.S. science education.
Parents should see a chance to replace the usual after-school and summer routines with activities that captivate kids in positive ways.
I see a way to get kids to choose tinkering over TV. Based on 16 years of hearing pitches about the next great thing in education, what jumps out is that demand from young people — not the education industry’s desire to supply something — is driving the maker movement.
High-profile Maker Faire events are the leading edge. A layer or two beneath, in church basements, children’s museums and public libraries dubbed “makerspaces” — part high-tech shop class and part Google hangout — kids are showing up.
It is this demand from kids like Raven Hoston-Turner, who was “super bored” before her uncle told her about the Mt. Elliott Makerspace in Detroit, that is fueling the maker movement.
Bare even talks specifically about Pittsburgh and the maker opportunities we have here.
Thanks to innovative Pittsburgh foundations that launched the Kids + Creativity Network in 2007, the region is aligning science instruction in schools with the kinds of activities kids are doing on their own time.
The aim was to set learning on fire, says Greg Behr, executive director of Pittsburgh’s Grable Foundation.
Instead of picking off one or two strong projects to support, Grable invested in building a network. Now, more than 100 groups are pulling in the same direction.
Jane Werner, executive director of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, built out a 3,000-square-foot makerspace, what it calls MakeSHOP, and is creating an additional 5,000-square-foot MakeSHOP for kids age 10 and up.
“Museums can be labs for education reform,” Werner says. “No one can fail at a museum. Why not experiment with education reform at a museum?”
The Elizabeth Forward School District, south of Pittsburgh, is integrating the maker movement into the core of its education mission. The district is “remaking education,” transforming traditional classrooms and the library into interactive digital learning labs.
“It helped me learn more, actually,” says Alyssa, a junior.
This is what Dale Dougherty, one of the maker movement’s founding fathers, wanted all along.
“What I’m really interested in is an alternative way of engaging kids and getting them into science and technology,” Dougherty said.
Read the rest of the story in CNN’s Opinion section to learn more about the World Maker Faire and the ever-growing maker movement that is remaking learning here in Pittsburgh, in New York and all across the globe.