After attending my first Maker Faire, hosted in Queens New York at the Hall of Science, I am even more convinced of the power of change and opportunity in the United States. Thousands of people poured into Queens for this two day maker extravaganza on September 29 & 30. There is a Maker Movement taking place, and this was the location to see it all come together. From inventors to crafters to performers, there was something on the grounds to make everyone happy.
The vast property in Flushing Meadow offered everything from a Maker Pavilion, where makers featured their makes, to aRobotics Pavilion that delivered a hands-on robot building experience. Then, there was the opportunity to see one of my personal heroes speak, Seth Godin. If you are familiar with Godin, marketer extraordinaire, you will understand what I’m talking about. His books are engaging and enlightening, but he is infinitely better in person. His most profound thought was questioning the idea of educating for the masses; if we want our children to be innovative and creative thinkers, we must take a deeper look at how we educate them.
Think about that for a minute. We ask our children to behave like all of the other well-behaved children in school. We want them to learn like all of the other kids, and yet we want them to be creative, innovative, and different. This presents an interesting conundrum. We are asking our children/students to do two things that are, at their core, opposite of one another. Stay in line, but march to your own beat. Godin points out that we teach students to take notes so that they can regurgitate information back for testing purposes, with no hope that they will actually retain that knowledge for the long term. After all, who actually remembers what they learned in college? Most of us crammed for tests and then immediately forgot the information we had studied. Most of the learning we do for our current jobs is done…well…on the job. So, we have to think about the way we educate and hopefully improvethe way we teach and develop a more individualized yet mass customized learning plan with the advancement of technology and a better understanding of how we each learn as individuals. For Godin’s entire lecture check out this link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZ01MH9BQqk
There were other standout moments at the Maker Faire, including hands-on pavilions like the Maker Shed, where participants could learn how to solder or weld, and the 3D Printed Pavilion, where one could design personal figurines with 3D printers. As someone who likes to use their hands and make things (I was raised in a wood working shop so I had little choice), I appreciated the crafters represented at the Bust Magazine Craftacular area. From clothing to dog toys to some of the most creative handmade prints and cards, this is where the creative come to show off and sell their wares and talents.
The Maker Faire is a place where makers come to share ideas and everyone is invited to participate. Families are out in full force, and they are sharing the idea of creating with their children. Perhaps if we all participated in more events like these we would be able to change the way in which we learn, teach, and grow. For more information on the Maker movement and Maker Faire check out: www.makerfaire.org.