When I was in elementary school, I built a Honey I Shrunk the Kids-style shrinking helmet. If I remember correctly, the materials included an old bicycle helmet, at least one roll of silver duct tape, and the pieces of a VCR I had unceremoniously dismantled. I did not know what “making” was. I had never heard of a “maker movement.” What I did know was that, like Rick Moranis in Honey I Shrunk the Kids, I loved building things. Doing hands-on projects like my shrinking helmet were some of the most fun, exciting and inspiring experiences of my young life. These projects pushed me to think in new and exciting ways, and instilled in me a passion for making (and sometimes breaking) things that continues to this day.
These amazing moments were not a part of my school experience though. These were all projects I started at home and developed outside of any organized educational program. Making was something I came to independently, and looking back on my experiences as a maker-minded kid, I wish there had been someone there to guide me in that process. I think about how much knowledge and inspiration I would have gained from a teacher who put making in a central position in their curriculum. As I’ve grown up and taken on roles as an educator and youth program coordinator, I’ve consistently made an effort to bring the maker spirit into my work. I saw, through my own experience, the kind of transformative, inspiring effect making can have on the life of a young person and I believe deeply in the importance of providing this experience as an educator. As the maker movement continues to grow and develop, I am thrilled to see it taking on increasingly important roles in mainstream education. It makes me so happy to think that students are being offered organized, well-developed opportunities to bring making into their lives. There is still work to be done however, and at Maker Ed, I’ve found an amazing opportunity to be a part of this change.
In the position of Education Community Coordinator, I am thrilled to have the chance to support the community of maker educators nationwide in their mission to bring making into the lives of children. I am so excited to be there to give educators the resources they need to make making an integral part of their programs, and to help more teachers see the powerful, transformational possibilities of the maker movement. And while I may never build a real shrinking helmet myself, I bet there is a young maker out there who, with the right support, might one day be the one to bring shrinking helmets to life.