. Making is fundamental to the human spirit. It's something humans have done for thousands of years, and without that spirit, we don't have things as fundamental as fire, the lightbulb, cars, computers, and other countless inventions that have changed how humans interact with the world around them. The issue is that for centuries, this was something that was only taught on the fringes of school even though it's been proven time and time again that a making experience brings about more in-depth learning. We need to make making part of every kid's learning experience, and hopefully, these resources will help!
Many schools are bringing making into a specific space such as a maker space, but the real challenge is bringing making into your core content classes. Core content classes are the place where making can make a difference because they give kids a more in-depth learning experience in that content and because it's where most kids spend the majority of their time. Basically, if they can build or make something in that content, they are much more likely to remember it.
It can be tough though to come up with ways to include making. What kinds of projects can you do? Where do you get ideas from? The five resources below all have tons of projects you can do. You may need to come up with some scenario to adapt them to your content, but usually, that means coming up with a final audience or group that will use whatever they make. You need to be creative to do that! For example, if I were teaching the industrial revolution, I would have kids make a commercial for one of the new products that came out of the era. The audience would be those that they were getting to purchase it. You could also do things like novel engineering where they design something that would aid a literary character on their journey. It's all about creativity.
Now on to the places to find projects
1. Instructables: Instructables is a great place to start! This is a site run by our friends at AutoDesk that's mission is to give you directions on how to make anything. There are projects ranging from cooking, construction, sewing, electronics, to just basic small maker activities. You will have to adapt them to fit your standards, but it only takes that right creative scenario.
2. Makezine: Makezine is the resource site of the organization that puts on MakerFaire's across the United States. It has a bunch of project ideas, but it is not as fully formed as Instructables is. What it does have though is a connection to the community. You can both connect to other makers and find events near you. The number of things that are included in the maker movement is unbelievable, and this site will give you incredible insight into them.
3. Maker Ed: Maker ed is a non-profit organization whose entire goal is to bring Maker Education to kids. The key to this one is that it is geared toward education. There are some great project ideas and resources to choose from here although the amount of project ideas is not as in-depth as other sites. What is helpful though is that it contains ideas about the things that go along with making such as redesigning spaces. It also has an educator community that you can be part of
4. Novel Engineering: I used to work with on maker activities with a former elementary school librarian, and this site was a favorite of hers. The idea is that you take a novel, and you build a project that solves some issue for the characters in the story. Think of something like building shelters for a survival story. It gives you a basis to input making into the curriculum, and this site helps you get there.
5. Pinterest: Pinterest is the ultimate DIY site on the internet. It has thousands of ideas and projects, and it even has plenty of education-oriented maker projects. It's all just a matter of getting the right search term. Try searching making to start!
Coding can be a great way to make! If you're interested in learning more, click HERE.
If your reading this post, I would imagine you have an interest in programming, and you would probably agree with me that it is one of the few skills that we can teach kids that is "future proof." It doesn't take much to find all the open positions that currently go unfilled, and it doesn't take much to see that those numbers are just going to grow unless we do something about it. The issue is how do we teach it?
It might be a bit easier to teach if every teacher had a programming background, but that's just not the case. We are a long way off from any era that looks like that, and in the end, we may not ever get there. So, what do we do? We need to teach computer science, but we only have a precious few teachers who actually know how to do that.
There are tons of companies out there that are trying to change that, but many make a critical mistake. Many companies have computer science experts build their platform, and they create it for what they needed. They don't think of the student, and they especially don't think of the teacher. The platform should be centered on students and teacher first, and if it's not it just plain won't stick.
You have to have a platform with a user experience that makes sense for both teachers and students. I think that's what Tynker does exceptionally well. It's incredibly easy for students to get straight on the platform and know immediately what to do, but the best part is that it is also that way for teachers.
From the student side, I have seen more coding interfaces then I can count, and the thing that drives me craziest is the number of clicks it takes for students to find what they need. The idea that comes in second is the number of platforms that throw students into the deep end and end up like Nike by saying "Just do it." Tynker doesn't do that. As kids start learning the platform, they are greeted by a command box where they can see all the commands. The clicks are incredibly limited. They also have tutorials and lessons for almost anything a student wants to do. Kids can then remix those projects, or they can take what they learned and make something new. The best part is they can do this starting at kindergarten and stay on the same platform all the way through 12th grade, and that's all while using whatever device they have.
Where Tynker really excels though is with teachers. Coding and computer science should not be a just sometimes thing, but for it to go wide it has to be easy to start, and it has to drive towards curriculum goals. Tynker is the only platform that does that. Tynker has an interface that makes it easy to pick lessons, assign, and give feedback on that student work. My favorite part is that it is also incredibly easy to show them off and get peer feedback. The best part though is that this can easily be a platform to let kids create for content. There are tons of lessons in Math, Science, Social Studies, and ELA already built into the platform, but you can always make your own to connect it to almost any topic you want. Everything is created with the teacher in mind, and you just can't find that elsewhere.
Coding is like a world language. The earlier you start, the better off you will be. It also can get you to the ideal in the classroom: teaching content while also teaching a "future proof skill." If your interested in learning more, just fill out the form HERE.