It was an intrepid group that hit the road at 7 am this morning ready for a day of learning and making as we made our way to the Calgary Makerfaire at the Telus Spark centre. Both Dana Ariss (@DanaAriss) Kelli Holden (@kelliholden) and myself were all interested in this year’s event because it seemed so geared for educators interested in bringing maker education to life in their classrooms and schools. As we all know makerspaces and maker Ed are the new buzzwords so finding ways to authentically bringing this type of thinking into my class was a goal I had in making this trip.
We were lucky to start the day off with Sylvia Martinez, one of the authors of the amazing book, Invent to Learn. We were excited to hear her speak and were not disappointed. She shared so many important points that spoke to me, but one that really stood out was a quote by Seymour Papert. This really hit home for me with my own Makerbins I have for my littles in my grade 3 classroom. With them I try to give them the opportunity to create, collaborate and figure out how to make things work. One week in, they are something my students look forward to being able to dive into when we have time. This quote seemed to really hit what I was hoping to do with them.
Another great speaker we had the chance to hear was Steve Clark, an amazing educator who teaches in Calgary, speaking of how he brought his school Makerspace to life. His story was an amazing one and the experiences he brought for his students was one I can only hope to try to bring to my own students. His presentation reinforced the idea of looking at the why you want a Makerspace, what are your goals for having one.
The last speaker we had a chance to hear was Professor Susan Crichton from the University of British Columbia who really pushed our thinking. She made me realize that while making is important, it’s the thinking behind it that really needs to be developed. Having our students make and design for a purpose, that design thinking is and needs to be a mindset otherwise it will fall into that pigeonhole of being the newest shiny thing in education. She also introduced me to a new word I can’t wait to bring back to my littles “thinkering” – it’s one that I believe will fit well in the type of thinking I am hoping to promote in my class.
And if this wasn’t enough, we had the chance to go through the gallery full of groups promoting maker thinking. We found out about groups that will share their maker love and knowledge with our students, we only have to reach out and connect. Everywhere we looked we saw kids enraged, excited about this hands on type of learning. The one I’m most excited about sharing with my students is a group called AIMBOT (@the_aimbot) a group promoting design and making.
To say today’s road trip was valuable would be an understatement. The one take away that came through loud and clear was that the maker movement is not about the stuff, the cool tech toys (which are cool don’t get me wrong) but it’s a mindset, a way of thinking and looking at the world around us that we need to develop in our students. As Susan Crichton shared in her presentation today (another quote that really spoke to me) “Fun is good, but fun for good is even better.”
The other take away was the number of people out there passionate about maker Ed. I talked to so many educators and saw so many others talking and sharing about what they were doing in their classes to promote this type of learning. It was both exciting and mind blowing.
So thank you to Calgary Maker Faire, the Telus Spark centre and all those involved in putting this together. I had an amazing day and I can only hope to do justice to all the things that you shared with me and all the other educators who took their Saturday to jump into this maker world you brought to life for us.