What a Maker weekend it was!

October 2nd, 2012 by Richard Burman

I am just coming back from the World Maker Faire New York. I went to do research and that I got to do with over 500 exhibitors and a number of presentations from industy leaders. On my first day the subway had broken down and I found myself with a gang of mostly young people who were heading to the same place. As we walked figuring out whether to take a taxi or not, I got to hear their stories. A lot of them reflected back to when they were children and curiousity got them to tinker with something or take an object apart and figure out how to put it back together. Fortunately nobody discouraged this activity and here they are at a Maker Faire.

I attended a few of the talks and heard some interesting ideas. The educators spoke a lot about the value of having an engaged child in the classroom. Give them access to the resources they need, teach them how to use the tools and they will figure out what to do with them. Motivation seems to be the most important factor for successful learning. A good presentation was given on this subject by AnnMarie Thomas of Maker Education Initiative.

I also heard a lot more about Maker Spaces. What is encouraging is the fact that they are popping up in university settings where there is a great need. Ann Marie Thomas showed us one sobering slide written by Dr. Stephen Belkoff of John Hopkins University referring to an engineering class; “These are all A students and it took two days to build a shelf from Home Depot and get it [backwards].”  How could they become good engineers if they can’t figure out how to assemble a simple object. Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE and Maker Faire, chatted with founders of five different maker spaces on how their spaces run, why they started, and what happens next. An introduction to the panel members are at What Makes a MakerSpace.

On an even more profound level a few presentations addressed economic and societal issues. One of them had on stage WIRED editor-in-chief Chris Anderson who in a new book writes that technology has “democratized the means of production.” There is a good article about this on the Time magazine website; How the ‘Maker’ Movement Plans to Transform the U.S. Economy. On a somewhat related topic, John Robb gave a presentation called Building Resilient Communities. A resilient community produces the food, energy, water, things, and incomes it needs locally. Neat stuff.

Want to know more? Go check out Maker Faire 2012 Video Highlights.

One Response to What a Maker weekend it was!

  1. [...] the world, including Tokyo and Rome. Last year I was at the Mini Maker Faire in Montreal and the World Maker Faire in New York. In the HuffPost I read a blog entry written by Michael Nobleza, executive director of the [...]

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