Be a Maker!!!!

One thing that is surely to happen in your experience as a K-12 teacher in New York City is you will find resources (especially technology) limited. You can and should be frustrated by this situation, but also you can look to maker culture as a beacon of hope if you’re willing to pull things apart and build. They are willing to get their hands dirty, pulling apart iPhones, hacking code, and even simply getting on the hammer, screw gun and doing-it-themselves.

I’d like you to watch this talk by Grant Potter at University of Mary Washington’s 2012 Faculty Academy. It’s great as he makes a lot of connections between maker values and education.

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This ideal is one that I’ve recently been thinking about for teachers through the likes of friends who’ve been experimenting with 3-D printers like the MakerBot, and through David Darts (maker of the pirate box), discovering Cory Doctorow’s short scifi story Printcrime. I’ve been used to scanning and printing on color lasers, injets, and offsetpress for some time, but now you can scan an object and print it. Relatively cheaply too. Just think, that dohicky thingy breaks on your kids nice plastic toy, and you could scan it and make a replacement part.

Now imagine what you could fix, build, create in a classroom with students if that were available? 3D printers like the makerbot are just becoming available due to a lower price point. Sadly York doesn’t have one (yet), so we’re going to work on another exercise to play with the maker ideal.

Over the next two weeks you are going to build a tool that you could use to support your teaching. The tool could be anything, a digital tool (code only and would possibly require programming), the mashing together of existing tools (I’m going to build an iPhone microscope), or even something you build with traditional tools – hammer, nails, wood, glue, popsicle sticks, exacto knives, paper mache, whatever.

Over the next two weeks you are going to do three blog posts about what you’re making:

1. For today you are going to propose something to make. I could be based on something someone else has built, and you’re just going to build it too. You also have to tell us how you and your students could use it in your future classroom. And even better, imagine how they could build their own version of the tool too. I want you also to reflect on Grant Potter’s talk and how it is feeding into your thoughts about what you plan to build.

2. Next Monday 6/18, you will blog with a video showing your process of building it. Here’s a good example for an iPhone microscope (video) and in photos of students building a camera obscura. Do you’re best to show steps.

3. And for the final maker post 6/25, you will demonstrate the tool’s use. You’ll need to make a video for this as well or we can use it with you in the final classroom.