Stories from Maker Parents: Part Three

November 2, 2012, by AnnMarie Thomas

This is the final part of three posts sharing stories from our panel of maker parents at this year’s World Maker Faire. Meet the panelists and read their answers to the question “How did your child get involved in making?” in Part One. Part Two covers “What sort of maker activities/programs do your kids participate in?”

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?

MAKER ED: What resources do you recommend to other parents who have kids interested in Making?


JULIE: Other makers, for sure. Maker Faire is a fantastic place for starters and the contacts you will meet there will help you forever. The Maker community is Joey’s family.

Also, other parents like me. I wish when Joey started we had someone to talk/share with. We would love to help introduce others to this fantastic world. Joey’s favorite resources are: Instructables (he’s made some friends here) Make, and Make Projects.

Editor’s note: We’d have to add Joey’s Blog as a nice resource as well!


MARIE: The most helpful thing we did was to find a local expert to help us get started. Shannon Henry of Polymath Design Lab showed us all, mothers and daughters alike how to sew with conductive thread, coin cell batteries, and LEDs. Of course, there are lots of great on-line resources. Instructables have lots of great examples for how to tackle specific challenges, Leah Buechley has great web sites on high/low technology projects and Lilypad Arduino projects, and MAKE magazine is always expanding our horizons. One of the challenges can also be to find the right supplies and materials – I love the e-textiles section of SparkFun and, of course the Aniomagic site.

Portland Oregon Maker Shannon Henry of Polymath Design Labs, working with PDX Young Makers


JAMES: For kids who are interested in making things (and maybe for those that aren’t yet), parents should take a look around on some of the featured projects on or, they offer an incredible variety of things, from pumpkin carving, to lasers, to dresses. If you’re into electronics, but not sure about sewing try making something with cloth, or you’re into Needlefelting, but want to try and add LEDs to a project that blink like a lightning bug… These sites and others on the interwebs not only show you how to make someone elses idea, but they might help you get closer to your own crazy idea. If you have no idea what to make or how to get into it, just look around for projects, wherever the end result piques your interest, or the kids go crazy when they see the how easy it is to build their very own spoon catapult, just go for it. Find the parts and just try to hack it together. You may think it’s stupid and you have no idea how to get into it, but that’s fine.. The professionals have been doing exactly that for years, and to great success. Failure is always an option, and it’s one of the best learning experiences you’ll ever get, because you’re still trying in the first place.

Editor’s note: We at Maker Ed highly recommend Sylvia’s Super Awesome Mini Maker Show, made by James, Sylvia and their family, as an excellent resource for all makers.


CECILIA: My son, Andrew Katz, (13) has always found many of his own resources in the community. Often, as a youngster (as early as 4yrs old) he would 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.

Andrew’s garage is well used as a resource for the makings of a snow machine

Depending upon the child’s age there could be a number of different things to pursue:

  • Look for programs in your schools & community/region.
  • Attend a Maker Faire and investigate whether there is a group in your area.
  • Subscribe to newsletters in any area of interest & visit websites to see what programs are out there. See the pages on our STEM Alliance website for organizations and for students:
  • Go to engineering and science fairs and to museums (including Nasa and at colleges).
  • Consider posting an ad in your local PTA or community newsletter asking if there are other parents with kids who are or want to be makers? You might also reach out to see in a local teacher who teaches science, engineering/tech/CS or math.
  • A child can learn a lot by watching Make podcasts,, and can get inspired by shows such as Mythbusters, Prototype This, Build it Bigger, How Things are Made etc.
  • “Lock on” to anyone you can who can teach your child something they are interested in just as Andrew did/does with tech workers, teachers and even handy men/women.
  • Play games – explore Crazy Machines, Mouse Trap, etc. and programs such as Scratch, Sketch-up etc.
  • Take advantage of summer programs that involve Making, engineering and related STEM areas.
  • Consider online courses and video tutorials. [we can give a list of some]
  • Experiment with what’s around you and what you can tinker with!
  • Read make Magazine, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Wired, etc.
  • Parents: read Creating Innovators and other books on these topics.

Editor’s note: Andrew’s Larchmont Young Makers page is yet another great resource.

Please feel free to add your favorite resources in the comments section section. We look forward to your contributions!







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