problem was obvious: a round of bottled soda and not an opener in sight. The solution, less so.
TechShop’s Carl Johnson hopped onto Thingiverse, an online library of open
source 3D models, and ran a search for “bottle opener.” A few minutes
later his 3D printer hummed to life...
Makers like Johnson adapt and hone their DIY skills on the spot was not
uncommon at the Makerspace at SXSWedu in Austin, TX, last week. (Yep, we confess: EdSurge had a big role in orchestrating the Makerspace. But enough about us!) Allen McAfee from Fab Lab San Diego sustained the injury of a
crucial part breaking on his self-designed 3D printer.
Without skipping a beat, he modified the printer plans and asked another Maker to create a copy of the
piece--yup, a 3D printer printing a 3D printer. It’s this type of mindbending
fractal logic that is pushing Making beyond a curiosity and into a real
skill with practical applications.
was easy to get caught up in the "wow!" factor of hands-on learning while
watching lasers strobe patterns into wood and air cannons blast water
bottles into the air. However, intrigued educators still wanted to know
the bottom line: How do such activities relate to the Common Core Standards? In
a panel that included Katie Rast (Fab Lab San Diego) and Karl
Wendt (Khan Academy), Dale Dougherty of Maker Media advocated for Making
to join the rest of disruptive edtech in changing some fundamentals of
you break down some of these standards, you realize some things. Who's making these decisions about what the value
is? Is the market making that decision, based on careers? How do we
really know that? At the same time, we have employers saying schools are
producing kids that don't have real skills that fit into the workplace.”
elaborated that assessments of efforts like time on task, time invested in a project outside of class,
and attendance could provide a more telling story about student learning than do test scores. All
three panelists agreed that, realistically, dealing with state standards
would involve creating a portfolio of work through which a student could demonstrate concepts learned and applied. (You can find the rest of the
on the minds of educators was cost. Because 3D
printers and laser cutters can run thousands of dollars, seasoned Makers generally agree that newcomers should focus on the essentials first.
This might be as simple as buying a used set of hand tools for a class
to take apart broken electronics and later scaling up the space by adding more
expensive equipment. The organization, Makerspace, has a handy playbook to keep spending
a young person infiltrated SXSWedu. Chase Lewis, 13,
could be seen zipping from booth to booth, asking questions and getting
his own projects laser cut and 3D printed. Recently, he was one of the
winners of the Smithsonian/ePals "Invent It Challenge" for creating a
low-cost transportation device that can be airdropped to refugees. We
had a chance to talk in depth to Chase, Dale Dougherty, and Cale Bessent
of TechShop and so learn about design thinking and how mastering the art of failure is essential to Making.
bottle opener lay in two pieces on TechShop’s table by the time I saw
it. "Yeah, it broke after one bottle. I should have
read all the build instructions," Johnson laughed. For him and the rest of the Makers, picking oneself up is just part of the process.
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