Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Maker Space

So there's this movement going on. It's called the Maker Manifesto or the Maker Space Movement or I don't know, something with making in it. It's all about encouraging people to make things.

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There's a basic proposition behind this movement that I'm trying to figure out.

The proposition is this: if you give people (especially kids) the right tools, they will create.

So imagine this. Imagine a space in your house with neatly organized bins full of supplies and tools for your kids to make anything they can imagine. Imagine a thirty-five dollar computer that will allow them to program and design whatever they want. Imagine a robotics tool for twenty-five dollars that will help your kid fulfill their engineering dreams.

A great dream, huh? Well, that's the plan around here. A foolish plan, most likely, but I'm going to create this space or die trying. Otherwise, I might as well send them off to school where they rarely make anything and if they do, there are pretty strict instructions on what to make, how to make it, with a rubric lurking nearby to evaluate that creativity (what there is of it). We're reorganizing the house over the next few weekends so every space is a consecrated space—dedicated to one particular thing—and my library (gasp!) is going to be converted into a maker space. There will be a sewing table, an arts table, a building table, and an engineering table (not that these things can't be used in conjunction with each other—it's just a way of organizing supplies).

This is a serious sacrifice—our family of seven lives in 2400 square feet. With five large instruments and nine pets and thousands of books (I know, I have a problem. I currently have 249 books out from the library, a personal record...) we are bursting at our mortared seams. We're going to have to put bookshelves all over the walls in the bedrooms—and nearly every place else. Sam is being very, very patient with me, but if I can create this space, and the kids can feel inspired and safe creating in it, I think it will be worth it.

But, um, I kind of stink at building, sewing, and engineering. I really don't know where to start.

Hence my search for the perfect list that will tell me all the tools I will need for my Maker Space.


Not so easy. There are no, as yet, homeschool books on creating Maker Spaces. So I've had to scrabble things together from a bunch of different books, some for adults, some for the conventional classroom or the not so conventional classroom.

My two favorite with the most compelling ideas (including introducing me to things like Arduino and Raspberry Pi), are these:

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Design, Make, Play—from the folks at the Exploratorium in San Francisco


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Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the classroom.

There are lists in these books that have helped, but mostly these books serve as awesome inspiration for what people and children are capable of when they have the right tools and are given free reign. 

Just the other day, I was telling Lucy about how Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo would sometimes steal cadavers so they could really explore the inside of the human body. As I was saying this, I realized that they had no textbooks. They created their own models and images. They did their own experimenting, and I guarantee they had a better understanding of the human body than I did after taking anatomy in college. Oh, I benefited from discoveries they didn't have, and I know we're way further along in understanding the human body than they were during the Renaissance, but I still guarantee, they knew more than I did (and do), and a lot of that had to do with discovering, inventing on their own.

Do you have a maker space in your home? 

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