Tinkering, building, disassembling, inventing. These are the touchstones of the Maker Movement, which encourages children and adults alike to explore their world through curiosity and a hands-on approach to learning.
At KCD, we believe that Making is about helping young people realize that they have the ability to solve problems and create something new. We believe that Making helps children of all ages develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills—all by following their curiosity about the things they love!
If you’d like to encourage your child to become a Maker, here are some suggestions from our in-house experts:
- Find something they’re passionate about
Whether it’s music, fashion, motorcycles, or video games, start with whatever sparks your child’s imagination and curiosity. If it’s something they love, it’s a good bet that they’ll love learning more about it, including how it works and how it’s made. “It’s important to find what students are interested in—to find out their passion—and make that the focus of their activities,” said KCD computer science department chair Rosanne Zabloudil.
- Encourage their curiosity about how things work
If you have some old electronics or appliances lying around, spend some time taking them apart and examining what’s inside. Brian Wagner, a computer science teacher at KCD and a founding member of LVL1 Hackerspace, says that curiosity and a willingness to ask questions are the key . “It’s fun to see how things work and think about ways to make them better,” he said. “I love examining an object to see if there’s a new or unexpected use for it.”
- Build something new
This can be a simple as building with Legos or cardboard, writing a computer program using Scratch, or using a sewing machine and craft materials to make a Halloween costume.
- Help them learn that failure is their friend
This can be hard for young people to understand, but failure is a natural and inevitable part of the creative process. Tim Rice, who runs KCD’s Design and Fabrication Lab, encourages students to post failed experiments on a Failure Wall of Fame. “Celebrating failure is a fundamental part of what we do [at KCD],” Tim said. “Accepting and embracing failure as a critical part of the design process creates an environment where students know they can learn from their mistakes and that it’s safe to take risks.”
- Find a community, either in person or online
Maker culture is built around collaboration and sharing ideas. Getting connected with others who share your interests is the best way to keep learning. See if your school offers a robotics club or Makerspace, check out local Maker camp options, visit the Maker Subreddit (online) or Louisville’s LVL1 hackerspace (in person). For other resources, check out websites like Make Magazine, Instructables.com, DIY.org, or subscriptions boxes like Kiwi Crate.
At KCD, we believe that Making is a great way for young people to explore their creativity and imagination. More than that, it’s also a great way for parents and children to have fun and spend time together, learning and creating.
Jeff Topham is the director of communications at Kentucky Country Day School.