Why Making Matters

As part of the Learning Technology Council meeting on 26th October, a number of teachers and students from across Upper and Lower school collaborated in a powerful presentation entitled “Why Making Matters”.

“Making” is a phenomenon that has been sweeping across the developed world over the last decade. “Making” is simply the art of creating something. At the lowest level “making” is something primal. We are all naturally creative and want to make things. “Making” brings a sense of satisfaction. However skills acquisition has, until recent years, been a barrier to “making” for many. Technology has been slowly reducing these barriers making it easier to go from concept to finished product, while the internet has provided opportunities to share and collaborate with others. The modern maker movement began around 2005 as an umbrella term incorporating inventors, designers and tinkerers. The maker movement is about dreaming, designing and building anything without the old barriers of the cost and availability of tools that were once the providence of large manufacturers. Makers come together in Makerspaces where activities may include

  • Robotics
  • Programming
  • Woodworking
  • Laser cutting
  • 3D printing
  • Creating with textiles
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Grade 4 Robotics

We are very fortunate to have a talented group of individuals, within the CDNIS community, who are advocates of the maker movement, sharing their expertise and providing opportunities for students to become involved in “making”. There is a shared understanding amongst them that “making” greatly benefits students in a large number of ways. The purpose of the LTC presentation last week was to allow them to share why they feel “making” matters with a wider audience and for the LTC to consider how we might further develop the maker movement at CDNIS.

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Grade 4 Robotics

Presenters focused upon 7 recent examples of “making” at CDNIS.

  • Robotics in Grade 4
  • The use of flowcharts for programming within the LS
  • The Blueprint Club in US
  • “Making” workshops as part of the summer school programme
  • Tinkering, with LS students dismantling and exploring a range of common objects
  • A community project in US to develop prosthetic limbs
  • “Making” within the MYP Personal Project
  • Design across the G6-8 curriculum, including digital storytelling, publishing, packaging and filmmaking

All presenters agree that we need “making” in schools to prepare our students for a world that is increasingly global, increasingly technological, and increasingly complex. The presentation also emphasized how “making” provides the following.

  • Opportunities for creativity, essential to human development
  • Nurturing of critical thinking skills and problem solving
  • Opportunities for logical thinking
  • Real life contexts for the application of Science and Mathematics concepts
  • Character building through a focus upon perseverance, reflection and improvement
  • Collaboration between students, students and teachers and the development of valuable partnerships with those outside the CDNIS community
  • The development of a range of practical hands-on skills
  • Meaningful student agency as students make choices and work on self-initiated projects
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Anticipation is high in the library pit

Following the presentation on Wednesday, I attended a tinkering session with Grade 6 students on Friday morning. The day began by bringing the whole grade level together in the library pit to discuss how the session would unfold. Students clutched shoeboxes containing the objects they had brought from home. There was a palpable excitement in the air. Teachers commented that they had never known the kids to be so excited. After some brief instruction about the purpose of the session and some advice about the use of tools and the importance of safety, students broke out into their homeroom groups.

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Cooperation is the key to dismantling

Walking back and forth between the 5 classrooms, I witnessed children engrossed in their objects, which ranged from old mobile phones, TV remote controls to mini-HiFi speakers. Initial conversations centred on finding the correct screwdriver, collaborating with friends to share tools, encouraging others who were struggling to open up their objects and predicting what they would find inside.

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What will we find inside?

When I returned 15 minutes later, tables were covered in tiny circuit boards springs and non-descript pieces of metal and plastic. Students were in awe of what they found. No-one expected a 20 year old remote control to be so complex. Students discussed systems for laying out components to ensure nothing went missing. There was much conversation about the function of components.

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Look what we found

30minutes later, students had meticulously sketched each part of their object on a large sheet provided, labelled each component with real and invented names, recorded their ideas about the functions of the parts and written their reflections on the complexities of their object.

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Recording the parts, purpose and complexities

An amazing learning experience took place over just two periods. As they left the classrooms for recess, the animated conversation was all about the objects they wanted to bring in next week.

 

 

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