Hamilton Maker Faire
The four of us dropped by the second annual Hamilton Maker Faire this morning. Maybe hoping for inspiration, definition, activity ideas for next year? Not having any previous experience, we had no expectations. What we found there was quite a mixture: young and old, pro and novice, high tech and low tech. Here are some stand outs for me:
- There was a young man who taught himself to make remote control airplanes. All his materials were inexpensive: the electronics aside, the planes cost a few dollars to make. I immediately connected this to the grade 6 science curriculum and thought about how we could give students a problem to solve: how can you construct an aircraft that can fly for a certain distance/time? How can we improve our crafts so that they can be more energy efficient but still fly?
- Another young man (just turned 15!) created his own costumes. Again, he learned how to do it on the cheap, using materials easily available to him. Foam sheets, liquid rubber, cereal boxes and toilet paper were his go-to items. I was shocked at how professional they looked, and how comfortable and flexible the masks were, and how realistic his weapons looked. Wondering about having students create costumes for drama…..
- The Hamilton Public Library was there, demonstrating how to use Little Bits with children. The HPL has a newly opened makerspace. I want to visit them over the summer and look at their green screen studio, and see how they are using their makerspace equipment. I’d love for us to do a field trip in the fall for the students to experience it. Ultimately, they are a great community partner, and I want students to be aware of it so they can continue to explore the maker movement outside of school.
- There was a woman who makes electronic maker kits for young children. It reminded me that, on my original list of “wants” for this project, I was considering the use of conductive thread. I see it as melding the low tech with the high. Sewing thread into material and having students figure out how to use that to conduct an electric current can have many uses beyond the grade six science curriculum.
There were many more interesting things at the Faire. I’m going to see if there are more in the summer….what better way to get ideas on how to use our equipment, than by watching others (especially young people who are near the age of our students).
Glad you liked it! The Hamilton Maker Faire is volunteer run, so get in touch if you have any ideas or time to offer for next year’s event.
If you’re looking for more inspiration, The Toronto Maker Festival and KW maker expo are coming up July 9 and September 10 respectively.
Thanks Brendan. My hope is that we can have a station at next year’s Faire, so students can show their creations. Thanks for the other dates…..the KW one is definitely on my radar.
Hi! I also went! I too saw a mix between high tech and low tech and young and old. Having gone last year before going back to the classroom and this year after having tried to implement this concept in a grade 1/2 classroom, my thinking has shifted a bit. What interests me now about the maker movement (in my class we call it the Creation Station), is that students are given the opportunity to explore and create. I’ve started considering that it is not about the materials so much, but more the mindset. Students don’t need a lot… They just need the freedom to explore an interest. Sometimes the materials that are put out are important but not as important as the openness of the environment! I’m sure my thinking will continue to evolve and would love to hear what’s happening at Queen Vic to “borrow” some ideas!
Interesting that you’re thinking about mindset…I think it’s important too. Students tend to feel like, when they finish a project they’re done. Makers tend to reiterate based on testing….they stick with it until it’s the best they can make. This is something we will have to explicitly teach the students, or at least encourage them to do.
What is important for me is the process. The end result is great, but I believe students will learn way more from working through the process than anything else. Learning that the finished project isn’t the real goal, will be a new concept for many of our students. Encouraging them to take time to plan, to draft, to test, to improve–that’ll be a challenge, but it’s all part of the teacher learning too!
Amy and Adele, I find your comments and this post very interesting. Recently I watched a TED Talk by a Grade 7 student that really got me thinking more about this maker movement and the maker mindset. I thought about our classroom environment, and the making that takes place in it: https://adunsiger.com/2016/06/25/what-if-every-space-was-a-maker-space/. Adele, your comment about “re-exploring” is an interesting one too. I’m starting to think about how this can happen more in the classroom as well. Thanks for giving me more to contemplate as summer vacation starts. I’m looking forward to hearing more of your thinking as the school year progresses next year.
Thanks for the thoughts, Aviva. As I start thinking about how this making is going to look in our school, I think about the parallels between it and the technology movement within our board. We hear the (appropriate) message, “it’s not about the app, it’s about how you use it and what you learn by using the tech that’s important”. It’s the same for the maker space; it’s not about the tools or what equipment you have or even what is produced, it’s about the thinking and reflecting throughout the make process that is the huge educational piece. The critical thinking, higher level stuff that students delve into, that’s where you hit the curriculum where it counts! Beyond that, makers feel accomplished, proud, independent, responsible–there’s your learning skills! And since there’s tons of choice in a makerspace, the engagement factor (hopefully) will be massive. I can’t wait to get started, although I think I’ll enjoy a few weeks of sunshine first. 😉