It is probably not a mystery to anyone who knows me, but I have a complicated relationship with the Make movement. Make is, in my opinion, an fascinating form of free choice learning. It grew out of the (computer) Hacker movement and has evolved to include all kinds of do it your self kind of projects- from building your own 3-D printer at home to keeping bees. If you have ever seen any old “Popular Mechanics” magazines, full of projects to do at home, you will have a sense of Make Magazine, which has been in publication since 2005. From this beginning, as well as a very interactive and content rich website, a whole community has sprouted up around the world, with local Maker Spaces for regular meet-ups as well as annual Maker Faire events that have the subtitle “the greatest Show and Tell on Earth”. What Make realized, from their start with the magazine and website, is that people wanted more than a “Do it Yourself” (DIY) lifestyle- they wanted to come together in community and share skills and tools and a communal space to work on larger and group projects- more of a “Do it with Others” (DIWO) style. Currently, there are hundreds of MakerSpaces around the world and more Maker Faire events happening in places from New York to Eugene to Tokyo.
In the last few years, they have also started reaching out more deliberately to youth, with the MakerEd initiative (yes, they do work the “Make” thing a bit too much, even for my taste!). Realizing that most young people do not have access to Make experiences or much in the way of hands on learning, they have taken this on, creating a system of mentor training, a summer Maker Camp offered through the Google Plus/Hangout platform with new projects every day for a month, as well as organizing Maker Faires to be family friendly events. I think it is one of the most exciting things happening in learning right now.
So, back to my opening comment- why is my relationship with Make a complicated one? Well, in all honesty, I am not really a Maker- I just don’t have much of a desire to get in there and build things or interact with computers any more than I have to, so I sometimes feel like a poser. I do knit and crochet, so can work the craft angle, and am getting more into the homestead lifestyle as I get older and my priorities shift around. But, I am a Make enthusiast! I have spoken about it, or presented posters at 4 conferences and counting and try to let people know about it whenever appropriate. A telling comment was at the AAPT conference this summer, when someone asked me what my relationship or role is with Make, and the first answer that came to me was, “well, I am a Make evangelist”. I do want to get the word out and get people excited and involved in helping create these experiences for learners of all ages.
Thus, while I might never pick up a soldering gun, you will find me helping build this community in as many ways as I can. Keep your eyes open- there is Making happening everywhere!