Academic journal article The Science Teacher

"Making" a Difference

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

"Making" a Difference

Article excerpt

It's been called a technological and creative learning revolution. The maker movement is a rapidly expanding global community of inventors, tinkerers, designers, and other do-it-yourselfers. If there is any doubt about its status as a true movement, consider this: in 2006, the first Maker Faire--an event created by Make magazine to celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, and science projects--attracted 22,000 participants; a decade later, worldwide attendance had risen to 1.4 million.

Schools are increasingly embracing the maker movement. It is easy to see the appeal. Maker education involves problem-and project-based learning through open-ended, collaborative fabrication. Like engineers, makers use an iterative design cycle as they strive to create better solutions. Students solve authentic, personally relevant problems. Whether in a classroom or in a designated "makerspace," students engage with science and engineering practices in a hands-on way to develop and pursue their emerging interests in design, robotics, art, and engineering.

What is driving this interest in maker education? Technologies such as 3-D printers, laser cutters, microcontrollers, minicomputers, and e-textiles are now more widely available and less costly than ever before. In addition, the internet makes it easy to learn new fabrication and programming skills via sites such as YouTube and Instructables, while open source software libraries facilitate user-friendly hacking.

The maker culture's emphasis on recycling, reusing, and upcycling has additional appeal for environmental science teachers and all of us who are concerned about our environmental footprint. …

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