You often hear people talk about how technology is so “engaging” for kids. But that misses the point. It’s not the technology that’s engaging, it’s the opportunity to use technology to create something that is valued by the community and by yourself. Yes, a new device can be entertaining for a while, but when the novelty value wears off, what are you left with?
Engagement is not a goal, it’s an outcome of students (or anyone) doing meaningful work. Meaningful to themselves AND to the community they are in. Meaningful because someone trusted them to do something good and they shouldered the responsibility. Trust engenders trust in yourself and in others. Joining as a citizen of a community, whether that community is a classroom or a virtual tribe, where you belong, and your voice is valued and encouraged. True citizenship is a two-way street, not a list of rules and punishments.
Engagement is not something you DO to kids or you GIVE kids, it’s the outcome of this cycle of experiences.
I sat down with JD Pirtle for a chat about making in education. First, we discussed the origin and current state of the maker movement in schools. We talked through a variety of pedagogical issues educators face when teaching with technology, including approaches to three of the biggest: time, space, and assessment.
El movimiento maker llegó para quedarse, de la mano de una tribu cada vez más amplia de personas convencidas de que la mejor manera de aprender es hacer (y, si es posible, desarmar y volver a armar). Para integrar conocimiento y acción, tienen magníficos aliados: los fablabs, la informática física y la programación.
Los recursos son infinitos y están casi al alcance de la mano: de hacer títeres con medias, lana y botones a programar robots futboleros; de reutilizar materiales descartados a crear diseños propios para fabricar objetos 3D; de armar figuras con papel y cinta adhesiva a editar podcasts o videos.
Este libro, pionero en español, es una guía completa para que educadores formales e informales lleven la creación y el construccionismo a las aulas, desde el jardín de infantes hasta la escuela secundaria. Con cálida sabiduría, Sylvia Libow Martínez y Gary Stager reúnen las ideas pedagógicas con la práctica, incluyendo los secretos y las dificultades: trabajar por proyectos, elegir y conseguir los materiales y tutoriales más convenientes, motivar a los chicos y hasta persuadir a la administración de la escuela.
En Inventar para aprender se alinean la teoría, la práctica y las herramientas para transmitir a los niños la sensación poderosa de que el mundo es un lugar en construcción. Y para acompañarlos a entrar en él como sus protagonistas: creando.
I’m very proud of the latest publication from Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, The Art of Digital Fabrication: STEAM Projects for the Makerspace and Art Studio by Erin E. Riley. This is an absolutely gorgeous book of projects using 3D printers, laser cutters, vinyl cutters, CNC machines, and other tools found most often in school makerspaces. These are exceptionally inventive, beautiful, and thoughtful projects, brought to life with photos of student work and clear explanations of the steps and stages of how these projects unfold in the classroom, makerspace, or studio.
The book will be available in paperback and hardcover on May 6, 2019, but you can pre-order it now at Amazon and other online retailers. If you pre-order, you can have it in your hands on May 6!
Erin has created a unique book that offers a vision of STEAM that embraces Art as a primary motivation, with design as the guiding vision. Every project offers multiple understandings across all STEAM disciplines. This viewpoint creates avenues for teachers to understand how digital fabrication tools can be an opportunity for students to express themselves and find meaning in the world. It creates pathways for modern mathematics to emerge as concrete manifestations of precision and beauty. And it allows engineering to be fully expressed as the desire of humankind to make ideas become real.
It was a wonderful learning opportunity for me to edit this book. Erin is an amazing teacher, constantly adding and inventing new projects with her students, and then making them better. Her documentation is superb, and her explanations of the choices she makes as a teacher and designer are thoughtful and deeply enriching. And she is an artist, she hand designed every page of this book with loving care and attention to detail.
Erin organized the book by artistic process, rather than by tool. Processes like drawing, patterning, casting, prototyping, making 3D objects, and more are each explored with a variety of tools. This creates a treasure chest of inspiration and a relatable way for art teachers to see digital fabrication as an expansion of artistic vision. It opens a whole new way of thinking when you realize that drawing with a machine is similar to drawing with the hand, with the added benefit of being able to precisely draw with a laser, with a pen attached to a vinyl cutter, with code, light, or even with 3D filament. She also wrote an introduction explaining important concepts in graphic design and software, what students learn from digital fabrication, and making the case for STEAM in modern education.
For the past few months I’ve been carrying a dog-eared, marked-up copy of the work-in-progress proof of this book to various conferences and workshops, showing it to educators. The reaction has been extraordinary—people actually tried to convince me to sell them the unfinished proofs! But now the wait is over, it’s done and we can share it with the world. Check it out, you will not be disapointed.
Recently, I was a guest on the No Such Thing podcast hosted by Marc Lesser. Marc is Chief Learning Officer of MOUSE, a national youth development non-profit.
MOUSE designs computer science and STEM curriculum and engages students through the Design League and maker events.
MOUSE does similar work to Generation YES, where I was the president for over a decade. Both organizations support students as learners and leaders in their schools and communities. It was great to talk to Marc about my background in engineering, the 2nd Edition of Invent To Learn, how schools can be a glorious explosion of interesting things, and the (hopefully) lasting impact of Maker Education.
Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom (Second Edition) will be published in simplified Chinese, the language of mainland China. The publisher is Tsinghua University Press Limited (清华大学出版社有限公司), a respected publisher of education, technology, and culture books with deep experience in books and electronic resources from around the world. We look forward to sharing the publication date soon.
Brief Session Description: Let’s time travel a few decades forward to see what science, technology, engineering, and math will be like, and the prominent role that the arts, design ,and creativity will play in the future. Right now, scientists and engineers are creating a future where biology and engineering mix with computation and computer science. The future holds things like driverless cars, buildings that heal themselves, “radical mycology,” which are plastics that adopt organic properties from mushrooms, clothes that adjust to the weather, robots, Artificial Intelligence, and holodeck-like experiences that will bend the definition of reality. However, this fourth industrial revolution is not some far away abstraction, all of these futuristic visions will depend on the ingenuity and creativity of people who are K-12 students today. We owe it to them to teach them how to make, design, and create using the most modern technology in their STEAM classes today.
What are the implications for K-12 education when subjects are being reinvented every year? Are we content with providing students with science classes that don’t cover any science invented this century? What questions do education leaders need to answer to make sure that the future of STEAM is part of schools starting today.
This Sunday, Feb 24: Episode 3 – Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez. We will be talking about Seymour Papert and Mindstorms. I can tell you that I’m re-reading Mindstorms and it’s as relevant and powerful today as it was when it was written. If you stare hard through Invent to Learn, you will see the imprint of Mindstorms like an X-ray image. (Update: Direct link to the recording)
Sunday, March 3 Episode 4 – Jim Cash, an Ontario Canada educator well-versed in constructionism.
Episode 1 – Carol Sperry. Carole was a teacher in the 80s entranced by the way Logo opened the door for her to teach (and better understand) math. Carol wrote the introduction to the second edition of Mindstorms and was the teacher who told Seymour about her student who said that Logo was “hard fun” – a phrase that has become synonymous with constructionism.
Episode 2 – Brian Silverman and Artemis Papert. Brian was at MIT when Logo was created, and has a hand in designing and programming many of the versions, including Scratch. Artemis is an artist and the daughter of Seymour Papert. Together, they designed and now support Turtle Art, a lovely representation of Logo with Scratch-like blocks.
The interviews are being conducted by Brenda Sherry and Peter Skillen, Canadian educators and long-time advocates of constructionism. The sponsoring project is Code To Learn, “…a project funded by the Canadian government’s CanCode initiative, brings you this Mindstorms book club. Code To Learn is based heavily in the work of Seymour Papert and provides the latest version of the all-Canadian MicroWorlds JR and MicroWorlds EX at no cost to all Canadians. These come in French & English and there is even a version of MicroWorlds JR in the Ojibwe language (with others to come)!”
February 12, 2019 (in honor of Engineers Week), I’ll be the guest on a fun, informal webinar with the Makey Makey team! The Makey Makey is one of my favorite tools for physical computing. It’s versatile, easy to use, and you’ll never run out of ideas!
Engineers Week is near and dear to my heart. I have an electrical engineering degree and worked for a decade in aerospace. While I don’t work as an engineer these days, I still see the world through that lens, where challenges are just invitations to invent the future! The E in STEAM is often overlooked, or worse, misunderstood as something that only “some kids” can do. We will be talking about how STEAM can happen for ALL students in real classrooms, makerspaces, and libraries!