Whether it’s in the corner of a classroom, at a mobile cart, or in a community space, having a space to make can give young people an incredible opportunity to learn and grow.
These are spaces where young people can grapple with problems, think creatively, and take risks. These are spaces where they can create projects that interest them and that engage their hands, minds, and hearts. And they are spaces that can fuel a young person’s confidence, creativity, and love of learning for a lifetime.
But, these spaces — and the opportunities that come with them — don’t always exist for young learners. Schools, in particular, face many constraints and barriers to providing these spaces, including a lack of access to training, administrative support, and resources, among many others.
That’s why we at Maker Ed are particularly excited about two recently announced initiatives to support educators and school leaders in creating makerspaces.
One of these initiatives is Maker Promise, a collaborative campaign led by Maker Ed and Digital Promise to equip more schools with the resources and support they need to provide quality maker experiences to their students. As part of this effort, we’re challenging school leaders to sign the Maker Promise, a concrete commitment to dedicate a space for making, designate a champion of making, and display what their students make.
In return, participating schools will become part of a national network of maker schools, and have access to a suite of essential resources, such as curriculum, professional development, crowdfunding, makerspace design, and storytelling resources. (For those looking to get started now, check out our Youth Makerspace Playbook and Maker Media’s Makerspace Playbook: School Edition.)
Quick Tip from the Youth Makerspace Playbook:
The second initiative is the U.S. Department of Education’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) Makeover Challenge.
Through this challenge, high schools can submit a design for a CTE makerspace. All eligible schools will gain access to the CTE Makeover Bootcamp, a 6-week program that provides resources and expertise in makerspace design and planning (including a few Maker Ed-led sessions). Up to 10 honorees will each receive $20,000 in cash and other prizes — including personalized consulting from our team — to turn their makerspace vision into a reality.
We’re particularly excited about the potential for CTE makerspaces to build upon what traditional shop, home economics, computer classes have been doing for years, and to reenvision the many benefits of CTE for all students. We see these spaces for making as a way to open up opportunities for more young people to create, innovate, and solve problems — and to gain the skills they need to respond to the challenges of tomorrow with remarkable solutions.
In fact, when we spoke to Casey Shea, Maker Educator at Sonoma County Office of Education, about the relationship between making and traditional CTE, he echoed this, saying, “With the changing needs of the workforce in the 21st century economy, students will need a variety of skills…to compete. With modern digital manufacturing tools, students can make things in minutes that used to months to produce. Making adds creativity, innovation and an element of problem posing to the traditional hands-on, project management and problem-solving skills taught for years in CTE classes.”
We can’t wait to see how these two initiatives enable schools to give more students the opportunity to develop the skills, knowledge and ways of thinking they need to influence the world.