I can remember no way that I learned better than by putting my hands on a project and turning it over, taking it apart, and seeing if I could put it back together and then improve on it. This idea of making things is a skill that we see diminishing in the US as we move to a more service-oriented economy, but it’s one that needs to come back if we want to continue to compete globally. I was therefore pleased to see an implementation of an idea that occurred to me not too long ago, that of a Young Makers club.
The Maker Faires are a rapidly growing community of people who come together to make objects and projects, and to display both the process and the end result in a convention format. This combination of invention and outreach sizzles with excitement and lends itself well to collaboration in new and fascinating ways. High school is the time to learn these hands-on skills, and it was therefore great to see the following post about a Young Makers club highlighted on the MakerSpace website this week. Teacher Aaron Vanderwerff started the club at Lighthouse Community Charter school in Oakland, CA to encourage his students to learn to make things that they could later display at Maker Faire. He implemented both teacher-led and independent projects on a year-long timeframe. Some of the skills the students learn include woodworking, soldering, and microcontroller projects using Arduino boards.
The MakerSpace site generally is geared toward young makers and educators, and I recommend following this site if you have an interest in science teaching tools. It was started as part of the DARPA-funded MENTOR program, “an initiative aimed at introducing new design tools and collaborative practices of making to high school students.” It will be exciting to see what emerges from this first pilot year program.
On another note: Anyone interested in starting such a thing here in the Seattle area? ‘Cuz I am!