This resource page was inspired by Invent to Learn, a workshop presented by Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez. Read more about the workshop, the book, the website, and the movement that started it all, in this recent post.
MakerSpaces in your classroom
This article from Edutopia is a great starting point if you are inspired to transform learning by welcoming tinkering, making and engineering projects in your classroom. The article includes links to ideas and resources to help you how to remake your classroom space with makerspaces.
Construction projects like this one from Doncaster Gardens Primary School in Victoria will engage your students in making and tinkering that can be linked to several curriculum learning areas.
Another plug for the maker movement in schools and some examples from schools in the United States, can be found in this article on EdSurge.
“There’s real value in doing these ‘making’ projects in a social setting like a school. It connects you to other people. You build up a social reputation as a maker. You’re building and learning from one another, learning how people approach solving a problem,”
Resourcing your Makerspace, from Scratch…
Scratch is a free application and a simple way to teach programming skills, even to early primary school children. The Scratch website offers a fabulous supporting resource, with project galleries, instructions and tips on getting started and a community discussion forum. The ScratchEd website has even more resources, all designed for educators, including tailor made resources for all levels of schooling, webinars and a curriculum guide.
“With the poise, wit and clarity of a seasoned television host, Sylvia explains the electronic principles of light–emitting diodes, resisters, potentiometers, grounds and compiling the program you download to create a strobe light.”
Gary Stager, Ph D
I’ll let Sylvia herself tell you all you need to know to get some squishy circuits happening in your classroom:
If you want to see more of Sylvia, check out her entire Mini Maker Show playlist.
With a few inexpensive materials such as conductive thread (instead of wire) and metal fabric fasteners (in place of switches), you can SEW your way to an electronic circuit that can be worn or cuddled. Super Awesome Sylvia explains one soft circuitry project here:
Here are some samples I made myself (polishes nails on shirtfront) with a certain subdued pride, at Martinez and Stager’s Invent to Learn workshop.
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Build your own computer?
Once they’ve mastered Scratch, your students might like to build their own computer, even on a very low budget… seriously! All you need is an Arduino or Raspberry Pi and a MaKey MaKey kit (plus a few other bits and pieces). If you wanted to test the water with a very simple engineering project and purchase just one of these components, my best starters block vote goes to the MaKey MaKey, at $49.95. Here’s a fun introduction to the kit which turns ANYTHING into a key on the most creative keyboard you can dream up:
When you’re ready for the next step, try the Arduino. If the MaKey MaKey is your keyboard, then the Arduino is your processor (micro controller). Once you purchase the device (or the components to construct it yourself), the software you need to program it is free, open source, and available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. Here’s a brief introduction to one of the common Arduino boards (the Uno):
If you’d rather just hop straight into an electronics project, here’s a video made by a Year 7 student to show you (or your students) how to set up a simple blinking LED circuit, a common starting point.
Oh, and remember Super Awesome Sylvia? Well, she’s got a few things to tell you about the Arduino as well. For instance, Sylvia recommends that you buy your Arduino kits at the Maker Shed. In this video she explains her simplest Arduino project, the super simple adjustable strobe:
Finally, tinkering with the Raspberry Pi should satisfy even the most ardent of your budding engineers. The Raspberry Pi is like an Arduino with storage (in the form of an SD card slot), ethernet (for internet connection) and built in output for video signal (which you can connect to your TV or computer monitor). This video gives a good introduction and explains how to get your Raspberry Pi up and running.
If you’re breaking out in a cold sweat already, remember, there are already global communities of educators who are using these components in real classrooms with real students. They’re all only a quick Google search away!
More Maker Resources for your Online Toolkit
Make Magazine Projects
Ambrosia Creative blog
The Tinkering Studio blog
Built by Kids blog
Maker Faire website
The Maker Movement Scoop-It site
Maker Movie Night: Videos for Sharing
TED Talk – Gever Tully: Life lessons through tinkering
Gary Stager: Strategies for Hands On Learning
Not the greatest quality video production but you’ll get to know Gary and his convincing arguments for the urgent transformation of classrooms into rich, relevant, engaging, open-ended and creative makerspaces …within 20 mins.
Featured image: “kids love squishy circuits” [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] by Nick Normal via Flickr
Corcoran, B. (2012). Maker movement inspiration. Edsurge.