Maker Faires are opportunities for communities to get together and share their work. This past weekend at World Maker Faire in New York, the MAKE: Education Stage featured a diverse line-up of educators and students who told inspiring stories of making. As a part of Digital Promise’s filmMAKER Challenge, two teams of students from Vermont and Pennsylvania traveled to the Faire to share their stories and designs of products they reinvented to address an issue in their communities. Joining them from Albemarle County, Virginia, were students and educators who presented their film about A3 Records, a project which encourages students to produce professional work, not just in music, but also fashion, photography, and other media. On Sunday, students from Friends’ Central School (hosts of the upcoming EdCamp: Maker Promise) shared some of their projects and spoke of how important choice and agency was to their creativity and learning. For more highlights from the Faire, check out this slideshow.

World Maker Faire is held at the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) whose mission is to nurture generations of passionate learners, critical thinkers, and active citizens through a Design Make Play approach. “Making is infectious,” says David Wells, the NYSCI Director of Maker Programming, and we rely on a “I Can Mentality” in our makerspace and with all our learners, both young and old. Use these NYSCI resources to develop your own “I Can Mentality” with your students:

Spotlight on Maker Champion Peggy Koenig 

Peggy Koenig teaches fourth and fifth grade science at Hillcrest Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland.  She is proud to be a maker champion in her role as the school’s Innovation Team chairperson.  The Innovation Team is responsible for maintaining the school makerspace, designing and hosting professional development and outreach, and planning the annual school Maker Faire.  Peggy loves to inspire other educators to integrate making into their classrooms, no matter what the content area, and is excited to be adding to the body of research on making in education as she writes her doctoral dissertation.

Within a few months of establishing the makerspace at Hillcrest Elementary, it became clear that we needed to showcase the creativity of our learners.  Maker Faires are known as the “Greatest Show and Tell on Earth” and take place in communities around the world.  Having a school Maker Faire is the perfect way to celebrate a year of school-wide making.

The first goal of Hillcrest Maker Faire is to have every grade (K-5) level represented, with their projects on display and students there to tell the stories of their creation.  We strive to differentiate this event from a typical science fair; there are no trifold display boards; rather, you will see videos of sock puppet animals acting in an original skit by first graders, hydraulic robotic arms constructed by fifth grade, and kindergarteners’ beaver-inspired model dams made with sticks and mud.

We invite community makers which include parents and alumni to show off their work and integrate maker challenges for visitors to the Faire.  From them, guests can learn to tie fly fishing lures or how to weave, they can paint with light and even make a CD hovercraft.  At our most recent Maker Faire, we were excited to have some of our local high school students teaching about 3D printing, how to make paper circuit cards, and letting visitors battle the remote-controlled members of the robotics team.

As more and more teachers have integrated making into their teaching, the challenge of hosting a Maker Faire is asking teachers to choose what projects to showcase in a limited space. It’s a sign that all of our students have had a year filled with opportunities to make!