Tuesday, March 24, 2015

MACUL Hangover: Conference Day 3

For the definition of MACUL Hangover please see Day 1 post

The MACUL MakerSpace was the place to be Friday! I will let you read Mike Kaechele
explanation of how this space came to be and why spaces like this are important for engagement, innovation, creativity, and reflection.

Wednesday at the EdTech Rally I was asked to lead a roundtable discussion on how to start a MakerSpace (a topic I proposed to be discussed because I want to learn more). One of the questions that came about in our discussion was; How do you explain what a MakerSpace is? It’s a great question, how do you explain what a MakerSpace is without it sounding like “just summer camp” as Sylvia Martinez stated in her MACUL session; A Global Revolution Goes to School: The Maker Movement. At that time, I understood that a MakerSpace was a space to give students a place to play, be creative, and experiment with different materials and technologies. Sylvia Martinez explained it as a “Learning Manifesto” (I like her definition better)

But was this a good enough argument for skeptical administrator, board member, or parent?

That afternoon I attended Rushton Hurley presentation Projects Students Will Never Forget. Rushton discussed different types of projects in which students will...
       participate actively
creatively discover something new
leave the realm of predictable
show excellence
produce something meaningful

Flash forward to Friday morning at 6:45 AM as I am walking, in the dark, alone, down Jefferson Avenue in Detroit, to get to the COBO center, to help set up the MACUL MakerSpace, WITHOUT having any coffee!  Obviously my subconscious was in charge, telling me that something special was going to happen this day.

After the space was set (and I had had my brain juice, a.k.a coffee) I was able to play (participate actively). I made buttons with Erin Mastin, circuits with Lauren Villaluz, tinkered with Tara Maynard and Kerry Guiliano. As people started to leave for their first sessions I found myself over at the huge scrabble board (creatively discovering something new). I thought it would be fun to spell out selfie and take a pick in front of it to submit to the MACUL selfie contest that was taking place. However, I suffer from long torso-short arm syndrome so this is what I got.

This problem however, gave me an idea, “I NEED A SELFIE STICK! But wait, I am in a MakerSpace, I can make one! (leave the realm of predictable) I automatically found myself on this charge to make a selfie stick. As I rushed around looking for materials I heard someone mention cardboard. Great idea! I found the pile of cardboard and actually found a box that at one time held some sort of electronic device. Perfect! I now needed a handle for my stick. More cardboard and tape, duct tape, of course. So as I wrapped the Kentucky Chrome around and around I realized I needed more stability in the handle. RULERS! Earlier we had found this bag of rulers that nobody could quite figure out what we needed them for, so I grabbed a few for my handle. As I put the finishing touches on my hand made selfie stick I realized that I was in a zone. I would equate this MakerZone to the same zone I get when running in a race. I block out what is around me and focus on what I need to keep the pace and finish (water and chocolate usually help). Then I thought about what this same feeling would mean for one of my own children like when my daughter (7) is her zone, writing a book that “WILL go in the school library”. Or my son (5) is in his LEGO zone to build the ultimate “bad guy catcher vehicle”. That zone where you want to show excellence in a finished product. THIS is what a MakerSpace can do for our students! Give them a zone to: participate actively, creatively discover something new, leave the realm of predictable, show excellence, and produce something meaningful.

Yes, I made a cardboard selfie stick that lasted about an hour before the Kentucky Chrome could no longer hold my mess together. But for a few minutes that “stick” allowed me to capture pictures with people that inspire me on a daily basis (produce something meaningful), like Rachelle Wynkoop who took a man through the space to help him get into his MakerZone and create an activity he could take back to his school and implement only a few days later, to Kit Hard who I am not sure ate anything all day because he spent his time engaging visitors in activities or jumping in to release others, or Jeff Bush who spent his time capturing the event with photo and video to entice conference attendees to the space. 

Kudos to Mike, Kit, Jeff, and Ben for pulling this off. Kudos to all the wonderful volunteers! I now have an answer to what a MakerSpace and MakerZone truly is.

MACUL MakerSpace 2015!

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