Makerspace kickoff event brings together Makers, U.S. Department of...

Policy and Government

Makerspace kickoff event brings together Makers, U.S. Department of Education

By Tony Wan     Sep 12, 2012

Makerspace kickoff event brings together Makers, U.S. Department of Education

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."

Here's a two-minute trailer of the panel to whet your appetites. If you have a half an hour, check out the full panel here. And be sure not to miss our chat with Matthew Reyes from NASA showing off some sweet models of student-created cube satellites that have been launched in space.

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.

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