Code and programming may not be the most important topics on the planet but it is an area of study that sufferers two major problems. one: an industry with millions of unfilled job positions and two: a world where not enough teachers feel confident to run programming projects. The iPad can offer a solution in these situations.
School may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean learning has to. In fact, it is vital that it doesn’t!
When students let their brains take a break over the summer, they can lose the equivalent of two months of their grade-level math and reading skills. To combat summer learning loss and keep those STEM skills fresh over the summer, Project Lead The Way put together a list of super simple (and fun) STEM activities you can do with your children over summer break.
Learning by making has been around since long before edtech—just think about what the adventurous explorers or intrepid settlers of yore would have thought of "Do-It-Yourself." But with thousands of kid-friendly tech tools and a whole World Wide Web of resources out there, creative, interesting opportunities for learning-by-making abound for everyone.
Okay, so with all those resources, where should you start to build a makerspace? Here at EdSurge, we've rolled up our sleeves, put on our protective goggles, and built a Maker Guide from scratch, just for you.
Read on for ideas from the educators and entrepreneurs who think making 24/7, including what is involved with project-based learning and making in the classroom and tried-and-true lessons from the field on starting your makerspace.
Making on a budget? We surely do. We've got ideas for stocking your space with resources from your arts and crafts closet, plus inspiration from educators working to bring makerspaces to low-income and all-girls classrooms.
Little Story Creator (not to be confused with the similar sounding Little Story Maker) is a free iPad app that students can use to create multimedia stories on their iPads. The app was designed with students in mind and is therefore rather easy to use. On the app students can create multiple page stories. On each page of their stories students can add images and videos, type text, draw, and apply digital stickers. Students can also record audio on each page to narrate their stories.
Walking the packed grounds of the San Mateo County Fairgrounds this past weekend with my son to attend the 10th anniversary edition of the Bay Area Maker Faire, I couldn’t help thinking I was seeing a vision of the future.
This year’s report, Digital Learning 24/7: Understanding Technology – Enhanced Learning in the Lives of Today’s Students, provides landmark findings on the efficacy and value associated with popular digital learning initiatives: blended learning, online learning, school-assigned mobile devices and STEM learning. The views, values and experiences of students taking part in these digital learning initiatives are compared with students in more traditional classroom-based education. “We hope by highlighting the views and values of today’s students, especially those students who are living a digital learning experience, this year’s report stimulates new discussions around the effective use of digital tools, resources and content to support student learning,” said Julie Evans CEO of Project Tomorrow.
The premise is simple: start with a quick tour of the facility and very brief show-and-tell of the tools (less than 30 minutes!), follow with a group brainstorming session around project ideas (less than 30 minutes!), then form groups to jump into projects. Even before lunch on the first day, groups were already sketching and tinkering with Hummingbird Robotics kits, MaKeyMaKeys, cardboard and MakeDo’s, and more. For two days, I jumped in to help groups, learned new tools myself (LittleBits!), fetched tools and supplies as needed (copper tape! wire strippers!), recommended resources and suppliers (Sparkfun! DigiKey!), and acted as cheerleader for teachers pushing themselves to learn incredible new skills and create amazing artifacts of their learning.
The final projects blew ALL of us coaches away! The absolute best part, from my perspective, is that every single project was immediately applicable back in the participant’s classroom. Most of them are generally applicable in any learning environment! Serious high school science content, literature and history, elementary grades, even social/emotional learning… This was absolutely the most excellent collection of practical and academically-oriented maker projects I’ve seen!
Whether it’s Minecraft or duct tape wallets, the childhood passions that seem like fads, if not totally unproductive, can alternatively be seen as mediums for experiencing the virtuous cycle of curiosity: discovering, trying, failing and growing. At DIY, we’ve created a way for kids to explore hundreds of skills and to understand the ways in which they can be creative through them. Often, the skills are unconventional, and almost always the results are surprising. I don’t think it’s important that kids use the skills they learn on DIY for the rest of their lives. What’s important is that kids develop the muscle to be fearless learners so that they are never stuck with the skills they have. Only this will prepare them for a world where change is accelerating and depending on a single skill to provide a lifetime career is becoming impossible.
My colleague and I walked into a room filled with a dozen fifth-grade girls snacking on pretzels and huddling around a LEGO robot they had named Kitty. Two of them were laughing about the goggles they had made out of robot wheels, while another small group crowded around a laptop to program wheel rotations. The rest attempted to drive Kitty through what looked like an obstacle course.
It was our first glimpse into life as mentors for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington's LEGO League, a competition that combines programming LEGO Mindstorms robots, team project planning, and creative problem solving to get kids excited about science and technology.
"Making represents the kind of informal learning that happens mostly outside of school. Part of me didn't want to see it in school because it would lose its magic if it was to become defined as curriculum. I want making to flourish as something we do because we discover it and love to do it -- not because we are forced to do it. I've also come to think that rather than having making fit into school, we should transform our schools so that this kind of informal learning is given greater emphasis and so-called formal learning de-emphasized.
"Certainly, I would like more and more young people to have the opportunity to become makers, and having makerspaces in schools and library seems like the best way to reach more of them. I've been excited by the progress I'm seeing. I have to say that making is the only thing in education that is getting adopted as the result of grassroots initiatives. It's bottom-up, not top-down.
"I believe that one of the lasting impacts of the maker movement is to transform our education system, replacing a standardized curriculum and testing with learn-by-doing experiential learning. Kids will lead the way, saying "I don't learn the way they are teaching." That's how the next generation will learn that they have the freedom to become productive and creative."
Everybody likes plenty of screens when working or browsing the Internet. It seems to be a geek’s rite of passage to brag about how many monitor screens they have (“you only have two?!”). But now those of you who own an iPad can use a simple app to expand your collection of screens, turning your $500 tablet into a small, portable monitor. It’s called Duet.
Augmented reality is an enhanced media experience in an environment for a user. There are multiple types of experiences. These computer generated environments let you hear music or sounds, watch videos, move and scale a 3D model, or place you in a scene that can be anywhere. All of these possibilities are interactive and require the user to trigger the possible experience.
nicely designed whiteboardDeekit is a shared whiteboard that enables online editing using any kind of content, be it drawing, text, image, anything. A whiteboard that is available anytime, anywhere on any device.
Makerspaces should be seen as a metaphor for unique learning environments that encourage tinkering, play, and open-ended exploration for all. Purposeful planning will allow your makerspace to insinuate itself into the mindset of students, educators, and families within your school.
Taking the overall approach outlined here will ensure that your makerspace is a well-designed learning environment, one that it will serve your students and your wider school community tremendously, ensuring opportunities for growth and success for the future.
Laura Fleming is a media specialist at New Milford High School in New Jersey. This article was adapted from her new book “Worlds of Making: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School 
"Makerspaces are an amazing way to bring STEAM, creativity and informal learning into your school, but with so much information out there, many educators aren’t sure of where to get started. In this session, you will get ideas and inspiration on how to bring the Maker Education Movement into your school. Topics covered will include: cultivating a Maker culture, getting student input, finding space, securing funds and donations, gathering supplies, making it happen, and sharing with others. Throughout the presentation, you will see examples from the creation of our school’s library Makerspace, as well as examples from other schools."
The renaissance of self-reliance has brought about such things as a flood of creative ideas on Pinterest, Arduino projects, popular YouTube DIY Channels, and the Raspberry Pi movement. But why should grown-ups have all the fun? Kids are born into technology, so why not include them in the experience? Teach them to fix and create things and you teach them to take control of their world.
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