Better than LEGOs, MindCraft and even YouTube, raiding the recycling bin is my son’s favorite past-time. Starting with a supply of duct tape, and as he’s gotten older a glue-gun, batteries, LEDs, wires, wheels, a small tool kit, and a few motors re-purposed from RC cars of the past, he can occupy himself for hours. I’m sorry to admit that it took me a while to see the value behind his messes, but now it’s clear: he is a Maker who is testing ideas. A future engineer just getting a few questions cleared up and out of the way.
A fundamental principle of the Maker movement is the reuse of both materials and ideas. Knowledge sharing is encouraged through websites, social media and other publication of plans and projects, along with online or in-person discussion of what works and doesn’t and how to improve upon either or both. Similarly, re-purposing resources is respected. Whether it’s breaking down old projects to make new, or gathering up under-utilized assets from a local resale shop, neighbor’s garage or recycling bin, it’s all fair game.
Mitchel Resnick, head of the MIT Media Lab, explains that the importance of Making “is not the sophistication of what gets made, but the creativity that goes into the process.” Whether working with programmable robots, 3D printers, or something more likely to get your hands dirty like empty plastic bottles and paint, “what’s important is the activity of designing creatively and playfully with these materials; it’s not the media or the materials, but what you do with it.”
So in addition to materials, the mindset behind Making is most important. According to EdSurge’s Jennifer Pierrat, students need 6 valuable things from their teachers (or parents) in order to innovate:
- Permission to play
- Structured time for learning activities related to their personal interests
- Frequent reflections on their process
- Accountability for finishing projects
- An appreciation for failure
- Inspiring role models
That’s all you need! With materials and mindset support, you are ready to go. Here are some ideas for inspiration:
- How can we make the cars clean? (put it outside and let them add water)
- How can trash be beautiful?
- Make a game that can be re-played over and over
- Build a home fit for a king
- Build a marble maze
- Build a better marble maze
- Create giant fake food
- Build a house for a frog (or a fairy)
- Make a mechanical pinball game
One more thing – don’t forget a craft mat to protect floors and tabletops underneath. Or better yet, send your maker outside.
-Guest Blog Courtesy of Heather Knape, Writer and EDMO Parent