FAQ's about Making STEAM


What is a “make”?
A “make,” as we use the term, is any project or work where you are creating something. In our work together, we will draw heavily from ideas from the maker movement, which emphasizes creation and empowerment. In our project, possible “makes” could include something written (a story, poem, play, etc.)  or drawn (painting, comic, etc.) , a created web page or digital image, something made out blocks or clay, or a relationship formed with others. We’ll be connecting “makes” to STEAM learning, and while together we will explore resources and play with possibilities for “makes,” you and students might do, we really hope that everyone, teachers, students and Discovery Place folk will come up with their own ideas for makes that are meaningful to them.

 What tools are available to get a makerspace going?
We are collaborating on two tools for getting going with a makerspace this fall.  One is a daybook as a place for documenting and reflecting on makes (and much more!).  Another is the idea of “tinkering,” in which learning is based on messing around, trying and failing, watching and sharing with others to find out new ways of going about something.  Tinkering doesn’t expect a perfect outcome.  It expects a messy, challenging and changing process.  We hope that students, teachers and Discovery Place Educators will tinker this fall with making in connection to STEAM.  We will get together again in person and online to keep thinking about how this is working. 

How are we going to stay connected?
We will have both schedule and organic network connections for teachers and Discovery Place educators and for students and families to engage together in talking about the making process and our discoveries about science learning and writing.  Check out the calendar!

How can this work in a school setting?
In creating time for making in this project, we want to think intentionally about balancing structure and freedom.  Making as the maker movement envisions it demands that makers, adults and children, are able to make choices about their own learning and doing and that there is access to making based on the interests of the makers (rather than the interest of test makers, for example.) We still need to enlist the use of structures to make choice and interest-based learning work in a social setting!  One way we are inviting you to take up making in this project is to create set apart times in your schedule for a makerspace, a dedicated time and structure for choice and interest-based making. 

 What does making have to do with writing?
Human beings are tool makers, and language, in both oral and written forms, is our primary tool.  As a design kit made up of symbols and grammatical patterns, language enables us to think, learn, communicate, build-relationships and make things happen in the world.  Thus, writing-as-making emphasizes a design approach to writing and helps us think about the ways we use words, images, sounds, and combinations of these codes to design new futures. 

Does this work with STEAM?
Yes!  Maker culture is all about digging into the way things work in the world to remix it and recreate it.  There are lots of opportunities for learning science content as part of makes.  For instance Lacy learned a lot about circuitry this summer through a makerspace.  More than content though, making initiates and sustains habits of mind for learning about and with STEAM.  Makers understand and experience intrinsic motivation, curiosity, resourcefulness, self-regulation, authentic and multidisciplinary learning and self-differentiation. 


This page is remixed for NWP’s #clmooc blog http://blog.nwp.org/clmooc/

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