'Makerspace' event helps kick off U.S. Department of Education bus tour across America

'Makerspace' event helps kick off U.S. Department of Education bus tour across

SAN MATEO, CALIF.-- Want to see what students can do? Give them a chance to "make" something cool--and a place to do it. That’s the goal of the MENTOR Makerspace program, giving more students the opportunity to become makers.

On September 10, the "MENTOR Makerspace” program will kick off its first year in U.S. schools with a special event held at the College of San Mateo. The event is part of the U.S. Department of Education's third annual back-to-school bus tour. Under Secretary for the Department of Education, Martha J. Kanter, and Director of the Office of Education Technology Karen Cator, will inaugurate the event. EdSurge, the leading news site on education-technology innovation, is cohosting the event with O’Reilly Media.

Much like Alice Waters' garden movement inspired schools across the U.S. to create living laboratories, the maker movement has inspired the development of workshop spaces in communities called Makerspaces. Now found in libraries, museums, community centers and schools, Makerspaces can give students access to tools, materials and expertise for developing creative projects that offer hands-on learning and real-world STEM applications.

With funding from DARPA, the MENTOR Makerspace program promotes the collaborative practices of making in high schools and introduces students to tools for advanced manufacturing. The program's developers are O'Reilly Media's Make division, which produces Make Magazine and Maker Faire, and Otherlab, a developer of hardware and software design tools. Leaders of the effort, Dale Dougherty of O’Reilly Media and Dr. Saul Griffith of Otherlab will be present, as will be Paul Eremenko, Deputy Director of Tactical Technology Office at DARPA.

The MENTOR Makerspace program has a goal of introducing low-cost makerspaces into 1,000 high schools over the next three years. It will provide information and training for teachers along with software design tools and hardware for use in a school environment. The first round of 10 pilot schools are located in Northern California. The program aims to encourage and support the development of projects by students that integrate new technologies and express their own creativity. These projects can be shared online and will culminate in exhibition at the annual Maker Faire, which occurs every spring at the San Mateo Expo Center. Approximately 100,000 people attend Maker Faire every year.

The growth of the maker movement, which started with Make Magazine and Maker Faire, has generated new interest in hands-on learning as a gateway for students to explore STEM fields. Perhaps more importantly, students see themselves as makers, not just consumers--a concept echoed in President Obama’s Inaugural address when he recognized the value of “the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things.”

The Makerspace program gives students “an authentic opportunity to create, to learn and collaborate, to struggle and persevere,” says Casey Shea, a teacher from Analy High School who participated in the development of the program.

The event will take place on Monday, September 10 at the College of San Mateo from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Special guests at the event include:

  • Martha J. Kanter, Under Secretary for the Department of Education;

  • Karen Cator, Director of the Office of Education Technology

  • Paul Eremenko, Deputy Director of Tactical Technology Office at DARPA

  • Dale Dougherty, O'Reilly Media

  • Saul Griffith, Otherlab

Tickets are free but you must register here at EventBrite. We hope to see you -- and plenty of local educators -- there!

News, research, and opportunities - sent weekly.