It is no secret that the Maker Movement is gaining a foothold in modern society. Writing for Newsweek, Louise Stewart highlights how the blossoming DIY culture is being adopted in schools across the nation.
In her article, Louise highlights High Tech High (you read that right!) in San Diego. The school resembles a set from a Pixar movie more than a typical, drab American high school. With spinning pulley systems turning a massive clock and a glass-covered piano front and center, it is obvious this isn’t your ordinary venue of education. Created 14 years ago, CEO and Founding Principal Larry Rosenstock describes the charter school’s core principal as “kids making, doing, building, shaping and inventing stuff” without the focus of one single subject.
Today, a growing number of schools (and other educational venues such as museums) are creating new programs and spaces to enable a greater convergence of both art and technology. Many would compare this “new industrial revolution” as the combination of the old shop class spirit with modern-day technology in do-it-yourself spaces.
With the High Tech High’s wide-open learning process, projects can revolve around history, engineering, and physics all at once; instead of segmented pieces. Stewart notes that some of the previous displays at the school have included “a World War I–era restaurant and cabaret, an art gallery, a museum-like exhibit on the history and physics of baseball, [and] simulations of faraway ecologies.” Talk about variety!
Tony Wagner, a resident at Harvard’s Innovation Lab calls High Tech High his “favorite” school and that other educational institutions with Makerspaces are the future. The Newsweek piece details how not just charter schools are seeing the benefit of the growing Maker Movement, evident by the widespread audience at Maker Faires throughout the world.
Stewart reveals how one student at St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn, New York was so inspired by an in-class 3D printing project that he was motivated to purchase his own 3D printer for use at home. Soon, he was designing and printing iPhone cases and his favorite gadgets from video games.
Even public schools are getting in on the act, as Albemarle County Public School’s Superintendent Pam Moran describes her outlook on today’s education as attempting to “make learning so powerful and memorable” and encourage students to be “constantly looking at the world in terms of problems that they can solve.”
Writing for the Huffington Post, Anna Clark details the story of Charlie Lindahl, who learned computer programming in ’68 and ’69 with a modem using an interactive terminal back when everyone was using batch processing with punched cards. “Trying to explain this to people was like being an alien.”
Charlie plans to roll out a startup MerryMaker Labs where a “No Fear Electronics” curriculum will be adopted. Charlie’s goal is to minimize any trepidation an individual would have when thinking about taking a step into the Maker world. Have no fear Makers!
Why are we teaching people to make quirky new gadgets out of old and random stuff? “Because it’s fun!” says Lindahl.
As Clark points out, DIY isn’t just for people with nothing better to do; in fact, it’s for anyone and everyone who are intentional about learning, achievement and skills mastery. From the outset of the Maker Movement, coders, knitters, mechanics, electronics tinkerers, masters of the new 3D printing process, apprentices of digital fabrication and even die-hard engineers are turning to Atmel powered devices to bring their ideas to life — maybe that’s a braille printer, a retro robot, a marshmallow canon, or even a prototype of the next big Internet of Things gadget.
When you put it like that, the popularity of the Maker Movement makes perfect sense. “See, when a system stops working — say American manufacturing — doldrums can drag on for years. As certain careers disappear and new roles emerge, folks in transition are wondering, ‘Is there something else out there that I can do?'” asks Lindahl.
Some Makers are constructing new careers as they construct new gadgets. Some Makers are skilled artisans seeking a supportive or collaborative community. Some Makers are hobbyists interested in the robotics wave. Heck, some Makers are even hip-hop artists, musicians and professional athletes. This is what makes the DIY culture so special and ubiquitous.
“And some savvy startups are creating kits to simplify the process. littleBits makes prototyping with electronics simple and fun, like putting together a puzzle. Arduino is an inexpensive microcontroller that can be used for many small DIY or physical and wearable computing projects. Adafruit is a company that sells the pieces and makes the tutorials. Among other things, you can sew your own owl,” the Huffington Post article accentuates.
With more and more creative individuals being given opportunities to explore their innovative habits, the Maker Movement likely won’t be slowing down anytime soon. We can expect to see more people, ranging from hobbyists to embedded designers, turn to creating products instead of only consuming them. This is the future. And, this is fun!
Will you be joining us for World Maker Faire in New York? Don’t miss the panel discussion, “Curiosity, Imagination and Motivation: The Natural Inclinations of Young Makers,” with Atmel’s Bob Martin and Daniel Ujvari, Arduino’s Massimo Banzi, Qtechknow’s Quin Etnyre and littleBits’ Ayah Bdeir, as they explore the ways in which the STEM initiative and Maker Movement are influencing young Makers and helping to create tomorrow’s industry innovators.