One of my more interesting experiences this summer was working the KSU Iteach maker camp. I have been advocating for the maker movement for a while, but this was my first time actually participating in a camp built around the maker theme. It was an incredible learning experience, and my hope is that we can continue to tweak and improve this going forward. I know the maker movement is where we need to go, and it's time for Iteach to make that push
We did two weeks of maker camp, and we gained some valuable lessons from it. The first was, "Don't overwhelm the kids". When we started with camp the first week, we started with almost all the toys out. That proved to be a mistake. Some of our maker space items were just not built for kids of that age, and others became the shiny object that took them away from really making something great. We also learned that we can't just say go. Many of the items like Little Bits, Sphero, Hummingbird, and others take some learning time. To get kids where we really want them to be, we need to have projects for them to practice with before they even start. We need to build to that time where we just say go.
I think above all we learned the importance of this movement. We watched kids find a passion for something, and it was amazing to see the actual things that they did. My own daughters spent a time learning to sew, and my oldest has already asked her mom to help her with her next project. I saw one colleague's child become virtually obsessed with Sphero. In a world where student motivation is always a challenge, isn't it great to see a child become obsessed over learning? I saw another child who had issues focusing build one of the biggest Sphero obstacle course we have ever seen. He even worked on it with his big sister! Last but not least, I saw a child who was a bit shy his first week come out of his shell and make an amazing stop motion animation video. He was then willing to share it and talk about it.
One of the most interesting things about camp was watching the adults learn to. If you ever want to really find out about the people you work with, run a camp together. It was amazing seeing some of the adults come out of their shells and really jump in there with the kids. We had one adult who became the sewing queen letting several kids experience and make things they have never had. I also had another colleague who it seemed like she came back every day with new ideas to engage the kids in making.
I believe in the maker movement because it really could have changed my life. I honestly hated academics in high school. I was bored. I slept. This is what I needed. If I had a time like this, I could have explored strengths that I did not know I had until much later in life. I could have been engaged. If I had maker time it might have even helped me in other classes. If you have not started a maker movement in your own school, isn't it time?