Last week was the Week of Making, an annual celebration of the Maker Movement and its impact on education. Most notably, the White House Maker Faire kicked off with hundreds of amazing submissions. Check out their blog.
To celebrate and learn from students and educators in the Maker Movement, I decided to bring my entire core team at Gradeable…including our product designer, full stack developer, and community manager…to the Hatch MakerSpace in Watertown. We met the volunteer team who have designed and run the space. We also met – and learned from – some incredible students who are making, playing and learning at Hatch.
While looking around at the art supplies, circuit kits, soldering station, tools, sewing machine, 3-D printer, and a million other starting points for creative exploration, I was struck by the potential of spaces like this to fundamentally improve education. The opportunities MakerSpaces provide for exploration, failure, and exposure to new challenges help kids develop problem solving skills, lateral thinking and creativity at their own pace. Imagining the future of education like this–classrooms without limitations, that empower multiple forms of expression– sincerely excites me.
These types of spaces and projects need to be more widely accessible to students– and not just in suburban communities. Empowering education needs to be the norm, not the exception–for my daughter, for your kids, and for the paradigm-shifting innovations a generation of Makers has the potential to lead.
To help spread this movement into mainstream schools, my team and I are developing a platform to help teachers track authentic student learning in project-based assessments with consistency and accuracy. Open-ended, student-directed projects can be perceived as chaotic despite their mind-opening and empowering outcomes. We aim to help teachers attach specific content standards to each project and track student development. Check out Gradeable.
Here are a few other great resources to explore if you are interested in bringing a Maker/PBL project into your classroom:
Ni-O Toys (They’re a fellow early-stage Learn Launch Startup, and their product is super cool).
And, last but not least, if you have a child in the Boston area, you need to stop by and check out Hatch Maker Space. It’s like the Children’s Museum, but fewer people and cooler stuff to play with. The entire space is volunteer-run, so check out the schedule online here. If you’re anything like us, you may find that you intend to stop by for a quick visit and you end up spending a few hours! You (and your kids) won’t regret it!