On Monday, Sept. 10, at the picturesque College of San Mateo, Makerspace kicked off its launch in sixteen schools in California. (Lucky kids!) Exhibits of Arduinos, LEDs, circuits, robotics, and other geeky goodies lent the space a true Maker-esque aura. A squadron of Department of Ed officials (in spiffy-fitting suits) arrived to celebrate the occasion. Both sides participated on stage (and amongst the crowd) in a lively discussion on how Maker activities mesh with the Department's grander pursuits of STEM and Common Core goals. Under Secretary Martha Kanter, first on the mic, set the tone for what is needed to make this happen: "We have to move from an engine of bureaucracy to an engine of innovation."
Karen Cator, Casey Shea (teacher at Analy high school), AnnMarie Thomas (Executive Director, Maker Education Initiative), and Paul Heckman (Professor and Associate Dean, School of Education, UC Davis) chimed in on a lively discussion, moderated by EdSurge's Betsy on issues such as the research and pedagogy behind Making and learning, support for teachers, and how this all relates to tests and Common Core.
Says Cator: "Making stuff that's fun and cool gets people part way, to the engagement and participation. What we really need to do then is be really intelligent educator and flip to the preparation. We need to bring in science concepts, mathematics...doing it this way, we will be much better personalize what's happening for every student."
Four middle school students got the last word. They are makers, declared one, "because it's not boring." Figuring out answers--rather than regurgitating the "right" response--keeps them coming back for more, said Riley Lewis.