Happy May! With the start of May comes the 3rd Annual Maker Educator Convening (May 16-17), the Bay Area Maker Faire (May 19-21), and the time to reflect on all the amazing accomplishments throughout the school year. At Maker Ed and Digital Promise, we believe the future of maker education, in order to most successfully create positive outcomes, must be based on diverse collaboration from maker educators and practitioners across different youth-based settings. Working together, classroom teachers and school administrators, librarians, after-school coordinators, makerspace directors, museum educators, community members and volunteers can make incredible impact through maker education and programming across their local communities and around the country.

Spotlight on the Maker VISTA Program

The Maker VISTA Program, a unique partnership between Maker Ed and the Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS), focuses on making an impact in high-need communities and overcoming poverty through maker education in K12 schools, school districts, and community-based organizations. Maker VISTA members serve for one year in high-need communities across the nation to build capacity and impact through partnership development, volunteer facilitation, resource creation, educator training, and much more. Whether in a Title I elementary school just developing a makerspace, a middle school striving to thread a STEM through-line into high school and beyond, or a community non-profit seeking to provide mentorship and skill-building to local youth, Maker VISTA members and partners are creating and evolving sustainable, inclusive, and accessible maker-centered learning environments — together.  Maker VISTA members apply what they know, learn what they need, and take on new challenges to grow the capacity and maker landscape of partner sites. Below we highlight two VISTA members and the amazing work they have done over the past year to positively impact their school site and local community in Atlanta, Georgia.

Since arriving on campus less than a year ago, Caitlan Cole and Greg Robbins, who serve at Drew Charter School, have…

  • facilitated mobile STEAM trunks that allow teachers to easily bring making into the classroom;

  • created a new STEAM website for the school that provides information on the school’s making program, as well as a system for teachers to reserve the trunks;

  • developed partnerships with businesses in the community in order to recruit mentors to support students with projects;

  • run regular professional development sessions for teachers; and

  • led parents in making sessions to help them better understand what their children are working on at school.

Drew Charter, with the support of their Maker VISTA members, has done amazing work to bring making out of the classroom and directly to the community. In an exciting student-led project, 8th graders and their 3rd grade maker buddies worked together to create free little libraries for local “book deserts.”