Ever wonder about this phrase “maker-infused science, tech and nature programs”? If you’ve been with us in the past or you’ve just been perusing our mailings or website, you’re probably thought, “Hmm, maker, I know the word but I just can’t put a finger on what it means exactly.” If that is you, you’re not alone. Many of you who come looking for high quality science and tech programming with EDMO might find that throughout our program descriptions we continually come back to that word, “maker”.
So, what is “maker”, what does one do as a “maker”, what are kids learning in “maker” programs, and why is it so important to us that it literally shows up in every program we develop? Well, let’s start from the basics. The dictionary defines “making” as “someone who produces or makes something”, and essentially, yes, that’s what it is. But to us, as we infuse it into our themes and our teaching, it means so much more.
Another way to think about “making” is that it can be the intersection of art, science, engineering, and technology. While “making” has been around for centuries, only recently have we given it a more complete name. The “Maker Movement” arose a couple of decades ago as a way to create for ourselves and recapture older ways of making things rather than buying and consuming them. “Making” happens both in the physical real world space and in the digital world. At EDMO, we provide both of these environments. When kids leave us at the end of a week, a session or at the end of the summer season, they often have something they have produced, or made, in both of these worlds.
“Making” is a huge part of project based or hands-on learning. We say that “making” is infused throughout our science, tech and nature programs, but really its at the core of all three. “Making” has shown to be an excellent way to introduce STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) concepts to children brand new to those subjects. They engage with the material and hands-on learning concepts through interactions with the projects and with each other. Through a project based approach, kids pose their own questions and answer them in a natural way, allowing for more holistic learning and the development of a love of learning.
When developing curricula for these programs, our writer’s often start with a project idea that is then linked to a physical or natural science, engineering, art, or a tech concept. The core of the learning experience is the making of the project; the trial and error the kids go through when making and the eventual excitement and pride that comes from solving problems on their own or with a partner, or within a group. Learning from your mistakes and understanding that mistakes are part of the learning process is essential to developing grit, a huge part of the Maker Mindset and an argument for why making is important and belongs in any learning environment.
“Making” is also part of the flipped learning model embedded into all our programming. At EDMO, we fundamentally believe that kids should have a stake and a say in both what they learn and how they learn. In this model, instructors become the guides, framing the structure and the parameters of the learning environment and the learning experience. Then, within this environment, kids are the ones directing their learning, asking questions, solving those questions, and developing a passion for the material. Kids are are encouraged to make their own choices on how they approach a project. “Making” allows kids to learn as they take ownership of their learning and work with their peers and their instructors to gain knowledge.
All of these concepts infuse our programming with the breadth and depth needed to teach STEAM concepts in our Summer Camp and School Year Programs and make them fun and engaging at the same time!
Guest Blog contributed by Ryan Kochevar, Edventure More Curriculum Manager and East Bay Region Manager