MakerFaire A Many….

This past weekend, I attended the 12th iteration of the Bay Area Makerfaire event in Silicon Valley. The week before the event was set to kick off there was an article in the SF Chronicle suggesting it would most likely be the last year. The rationale was due to cost and declining attendance.

Here’s what I know about having attended this event and promoting it in schools around California for the past many many years: it is life-changing.

The concept of the makerspace, MakerFaire, and just being a Maker is a return to a hands-on experience that many of us lost when technology began its climb into our daily lives. From amazing projects created and designed by teams to innovation introduced by singles, there was much to learn, discover and experience on a regular basis.

Throughout the years, when I talk about being a Maker mom, a promoter of maker teachers, and a designer of maker environments and schools, I am still often asked what does that actually mean?

I share it’s full circle back to where we began when in classrooms, in garages, and in bedrooms all over our country people would design and create amazing things for every day use.

For students and teachers alike in public education, it was an excuse to get away from the grind of standards-based education. Schoolwide efforts and districtwide initiatives to introduce Makerspaces has also begun a decline in the recent years.

What I’ve concluded is that it’s not due to a lack of initiative or desire, rather really good teachers at really great schools integrate the concepts much like they do in the way they use technology as a tool in the classroom- never the end result.

In my last year serving in the Los Gatos Saratoga Union High School District, this has become even more true with our teachers across both high schools. The integrated innovation and examples of what we would refer to as maker activities are prevalent in many courses.

& if the local events do dwindle, don’t worry. The recent addition of dedicated maker programs at community colleges throughout the state has shown that there is a great opportunity for the learner that may not be book heavy will have a place at the table.

Here are the maps I encourage you to share with all of your high school students so that they understand that the traditional four year college is not the only route to go:

Keep Making. I believe in you.

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Maker Classroom

Create your Makerspace with $ Projects:

  1. Begin creating your materials list for 1-2 Maker projects that will occur in your classroom in the fall (Trimester/Semester 1). Create a floor plan of where this may occur in your classroom or be creative and do it outside! Fresh Air breathes creativityIdeas: keep it small-start with yourself. What is your favorite hobby/activity?
      1. Cardboard Rube Goldberg contraption (just cool!)
      1. Popsicle stick trebuchet (Physics lesson)
      1. Make your own butter (need bread for spreading’ on!) (Chemistry)
      1. Scratch Gaming Project (Writing/Math)
  1. Create/Add project lesson plan to Google Classroom/Drive as assignments (1 to 2 to start)
  1. Begin wish list and longer term project list for year: start small- 1 Maker project a month and create a donors choose fundraising campaign if your materials list is $$$$: Now the Money: http://www.donorschoose.org/ if fundraising for kits. Or http://www.raft.net/Get free Science gear from Google: goo.gl/dMhwP4

My love for Minecraft

MinecraftEDU is a fairly new platform that is the brainchild of a teacher who began using Minecraft and found it’s value in the classroom. Upon initial review of Minecraft, if you were to just watch a video or observe the student using this JAVA platform game, you may wonder what the real value is and what’s the point? In interviewing a student on the value of Minecraft, if they are dedicated player, they can wax poetic for a very long period of time about the value that it can bring to the classroom. In Northern California, I’ve been following a movement around the use of Minecraft EDU in both classroom environments and afterschool programs.
Why do I love Minecraft? I love Minecraft because my eight-year-old loves Minecraft. He has catalogued 80+ hours of video watching various Minecraft GURU’s talk about their builds, their worlds, and their edits to mods. He can also add/modify code via command line which he began doing when he was seven.
As an introduction to the world of coding programs, Minecraft is a Java-based open platform (means it can me modified–think MODS). There is nothing in comparison with the exception of MIT Scratch for students in the K-12 setting.
Here are a few MinecraftEDU resources for anyone interested in evaluating this tool and integrating it into their curriculum. You can outfit a lab for a very low price and servers can be set up on another computer: It does not impact the infrastructure with TCO in an unreasonable way. Its very appealing in communities that may not have the money to buy a solution that can impact students in such a meaningful way. More on this topic to come…

Best of luck and play:

MinecraftEDU Resources:

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/minecraft-teachers

http://theminecraftedclassroom.blogspot.com/2014/03/minecraftedu-bootcamp.html?spref=tw

http://t.co/Gx5mfhEHP8

http://www.minecraftercamp.com/resources.html