With his right hand, my 11-year-old son presses the red-hot soldering iron against the tiny motor. With his left hand, he guides a thin, tin wire until it’s pressing against both the motor and the tip of the iron.
As tin begins to melt, there is some smoke, and a metallic smell drifts back to where I am standing behind him and all the other kids in the room. I have to confess that I get a bit nervous, but I am at ease because I can feel the thrill students get from the act of making something.
These children live in a world in which the objects around us are complex. We have gadgets in our pockets, but we do not have a clue about how they work. Kids buy toys and toss them aside when they break. And, not many parents encourage tinkering and opening things up. To help students slow down and lead them to a very different way of thinking about the world, we decided to run a toy making workshop and started a campaign called Be a Maker Kid at Casa Thomas Jefferson this year.
The workshop is part of a much larger phenomenon called the Maker Movement. The Maker Movement has grown into a global community of tinkerers, programmers and designers joined by the simple satisfaction they get from making stuff and sharing what they create. The goal is to teach kids a wide range of digital and analog skills: computer programming, 3-D printing, and sewing and drawing.
Beyond the skills they learn, kids learn an important lesson: that the act of creating something can be incredibly educational and deeply gratifying in a way that buying something off the shelf never will be.
We are committed to sharing everything we learn about the maker movement, so if you are interested in running a similar workshop in your institution. read the tips below.
Advertise the event in your social media and around school with interesting posters.
Give a ticket to each student who donates a broken toy.
Send an invitation
Choose a project your students might enjoy (see some examples below)
Electric car – Electric insect – Doodler – LED powered card
Involve school staff for the tinkering part
Have lots of fun, and record your students’ suggestions and what they learned with the activity.