The Fifth Annual Maker Ed Convening

All photographs by Keyana Stevens and Aaron Vanderwerff, Maker Ed
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The 5th Annual Maker Educator Convening was held on October 12-13, 2019 in Pittsburgh, PA at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, MuseumLab, and nearby venues. This was the first year that Maker Ed hosted the event outside of the Bay Area, and we were delighted to welcome new and familiar faces to the community.

With 117 presenters leading 61 sessions, including workshops, keynotes, presentations, ignite talks, and a phenomenal finale at the PLAYnary, the 2-day convening was our strongest yet, supporting important conversations and collaborations on our themes of equity, accessibility, and equity.

We welcomed 241 attendees from 31 states and 3 countries. Approximately 39% of our survey respondents work in a school or school district, and all others represented a mix of institutions, including museums, libraries, universities, non-profits, etc. Most engage with learners in the K-12 age range.

A slight majority of our attendees (53%) are veteran educators (people with more than 10 years of experience as an educator), while about 40% of our attendees report that they are in their first decade of teaching. We’re glad to see that the Convening reaches new and growing teachers as well as seasoned practitioners and researchers, all of whom are actively engaged in maker education.

Our Convening post-survey results have been both affirming and revealing. 100% of respondents say that the Convening provoked their thinking, and their comments were insightful:

Image Text: “Sometimes it's hard to mentally leave a lane of educational pedagogy you've believed in for a long time and look into others but I felt here I could value the new and the old, so to speak.”

Image Text: “I left thinking more about how making impacts identity differently depending on the context (e.g., rural vs urban), how critical it is to examine whether our programs are equitable,... and to use maker ed as another tool to create more access.”

Image text: “It got me rethinking the way I approach workshop design from the bottom up; I realize that in my space I have to toe a fine line between being extremely intentional on my end, and extremely engaging/open ended on my student ends.”

A whopping 97% of respondents would recommend the Convening to a colleague, and 84% would return the following year, with many noting that the Convening location would be the only detractor if far away. We continue to be invigorated by the community we serve, and the Convening reinforces that. Two additional comments from survey respondents echo our own sentiments and appreciations of the event:

Image Text: “The convening has opened my eyes to new possibilities and areas of study. To be perfectly honest, this event has helped me decide that I want to study maker education in some capacity as a future doctoral student.” “A lot of the attendees were very thoughtful collaborators. And I would not have known if there weren't so many opportunities to share and workshop! I appreciate how many folks from different intellectual and professional backgrounds came together for this.”

During the event, we asked attendees to share their observations and learnings on social media using the hashtag #MakerEdConvening. Here are some participant highlights:

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Image Text: Children's Museum of Pittsburgh