Meet Julia Petraglia, our Program Manager for Making Spaces

I’m new to the idea of labeling myself as a “maker.” At an early age I was labeled as: a musician, a writer, a performer. I thought that this meant that I could not also be: a scientist, a mathematician, an engineer. I was led to believe that these were two completely different types of people—left brain versus right brain, and I could only be one.

When it boils down to it, though, all I ever wanted to do was to make. I would get lost in making music and writing plays, creating stories and imaginary worlds and giving those stories life through cardboard boxes, makeshift stages, and pillow forts. But I missed out on exploring my creativity in terms of science and math.

I had to find a way to squeeze in some traditional Petraglia Family Making: Cavatelli

It wasn’t until college where I learned how much I loved the mathematics of music theory or how fascinating I found the physics of sound. I started to explore the idea that passion for the arts didn’t have to exclude students from the sciences, but was in fact an asset. I culminated my music and psychology degree with a study on the effect of performing arts education on academic self-efficacy, exploring ways in which collaboration and creativity gave students more confidence in their ability to succeed.

In the years after college, I had the opportunity to work with schools to use music and performance as a tool to enhance student’s learning in all subjects. They created operas about magnetic fields, civil rights and the water cycle. Students were encouraged to take ownership of their learning and demonstrate understanding of complex subjects without taking a test.

The beauty of the maker education movement is that it does not have a cookie-cutter definition. The lines of creativity are not defined, but they allow for the mixture of art and science. Focusing on creativity, taking away limits of where we say students can or can’t explore and eliminating the fear of failure.

I’m so excited to work with Maker Ed and support the work that they do in cultivating creativity. I’ve spent my first few months on the job listening to the passion of educators across the country as they bring new learning experiences to their students through making. They are pouring their heart and souls into exploring paths that celebrate and explore the talents of all students and I’m honored to have the opportunity to support their efforts through the Making Spaces Program.

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