October 31, 2012, by AnnMarie Thomas
A popular session in the Education Cafe at this year’s World Maker Faire was the Q&A with a panel of maker parents. Recently, we followed up with the four parent panelists to hear stories of how their children got into making, and their recommendations for resources for maker families!
We will be sharing our panelists’ answers in a series of three posts. The second post is here.
We’d love to have your thoughts in the comments section: (1) Do you have additional questions for the panelists? (2) Maker parents- how would you would answer these questions?
Introducing our maker parent panel:
Julie Hudy, the inaugural “Maker Mom” is the proud mother of young Maker, Joe Hudy, and her creative teen daughter, Elizabeth. Julie enjoys networking with her Maker friends and supporting the inventive spirit of our youth. Earlier this year Julie and her husband had the privilege of taking their son, Joe, to the White House Science Fair. Julie enjoys crafting, origami, and attending Maker Faires.
Founder – e-Mergents
Marie Bjerede is a #makermom, citizen advocate for education transformation, and recovering high-tech executive. She runs education and technology projects that explore student ownership of their own learning – including organizing a group of young makers in the West Linn, OR area who sew soft circuits and design wearable electronics.
James is a work from home father of 4 kids who loves to tinker and make things with all of them. When he’s not working or saving the planet, he’s helping his oldest daughter “Super-Awesome” Sylvia make her online DIY webshow at sylviashow.com
Cecilia Absher is passionate about education and helping all kids discover their passions and fulfill their potential. She is a corporate lawyer who, after years of working in a Wall Street law firm and also at NBC & GE, decided to dedicate herself to working locally to enhance education in the area public schools and community. She served for six years on theMamaroneck School Board, starting shortly after her second child was born, and ultimately as its president in 2006-07. Since then, she has been an active volunteer in many education related organizations. She is currently on the board of theMamaroneck Schools Foundation, a Vice President and board member of theSpecial Education PTA, an officer of the Parent-Teacher Association Council, co-founder of theLarchmont Young Makers Club and of theLarchmont-Mamaroneck STEM Alliance, Inc. Through the STEM Alliance she is working, along with other dedicated parents and leaders in her school district, to enhance and expand educational and enrichment opportunities for students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The Larchmont Young Makers Club has over 60 kids who are currently pursuing varied projects and has a growing waiting list. Cecilia lives in Larchmont, NY with her husband David Katz and two sons, Andrew (age 13) who enjoys science, computer programming and making with Arduino, Raspberry Pi and many other things and Charlie (age 11) who is very creative and enjoys many design and customization projects and building both useful and entertaining creations.
MAKER ED: How did your child get involved in making?
JULIE: Joey got started in making from being bored at school. He used to make stuff out of water bottles, plastic spoons, rubber bands etc. (all trash from lunch) We progressed to Snap Circuits. In looking for more Snap Circuit supplies we met Elenco Electronics. Jeff from Elenco has been our Maker Angel. He sent Joey projects, soldering irons and fun stuff to learn. He is also the reason Joey went to his first Maker Faire.
MARIE: Anika has been making since she was old enough to put sticks and leaves together to make dolls. She has always been extremely (stubbornly) independent-minded and has had her own ideas about what to do with art projects and supplies. Think “repurpose”. As Annika grew older and started school she became introduced to “electronic making” through the book, Fashioning Technology by Syuzi Pakchyan – this opened up a whole new world of materials she could use, particularly sparkly LED’s.
JAMES: Sylvia got into making things, by way of destroying them. With hammers, screwdrivers, and even her bare hands, she found her way in. She quickly found out that there are always smaller things that make up the bigger things, which i think got her interested at the why. Only through trial and error did she ever come to realize that we, regular everyday people, could actually build things resembling the shiny plastic things you can buy in the store. This thrill of building and creating something real started in earnest with crafty and electronic kits. Although not terribly custom, they help you learn that your hands are capable of real construction, from the ideas of others. Also, I’ve always loved building and making things, though I hadn’t had much time for it, if I see the spark in their eyes, I will never once attempt to quench it. Fan the flames of curiosity with hands on learning, and let the self-fueling heat of learning burn within them for a lifetime.
CECILIA: My son, Andrew Katz, (13) has always been very curious about how things work and from a young age he was interested in taking things apart such as ink pens, bells, clocks and other things and experimenting with various types of simple machines such as pulleys and carabineers and moved on to sprinkler systems, alarm systems, VCR & security cameras etc. He has “product improvement ideas” and is interested in the history of how things have developed and what innovations have emerged over time. He often would as a youngster (as early as 4yrs old) follow any workman (TV, alarm guy, sprinkler company, HVAC) who came to our house and ask a gazillion questions about what they were doing, how things worked, why things broke or did not function properly and what they would do to correct problems.
He scrounges around the house for things to tinker with, shops at local hardware stores, Goodwill, Radio Shack & Home Depot and people donate things to him as well. Attending Maker Faire NY in 2010 certainly made a huge impression on him and he learned about Arduino and then took a programming course online.
He also showed an early interest in technology and computers in particular as well as music players and recorders. His extensive curiosity and innate interest in exploring and understanding how things work and how to improve on existing products and how to develop things that will help others are driving forces.
Click here for Part Two and the next question:
What sort of maker activities/programs do your kids participate in?