For the past three years, Aaron and I have been co-facilitating a two-day workshop called Designing Making Experiences where our goal is to introduce educators to making and maker-centric learning through designing curriculum and prototyping projects that they can take back and use in their classrooms. We teach skills and tools as it becomes appropriate to each educator’s projects but we emphasize that this is not a workshop where they should expect to “get taught” how to use a 3D printer, Arduinos, etc.
While we love the DME workshop model and plan to continue running it, in our own classroom practices, we have been feeling a desire to explore the specific reasons behind why we want students to engage in making projects. The questions we keep returning to in our own practices are:
“How do we design making projects that are purposeful?”
“To what end are students engaging in making?”
“Are the making projects impacting students’ lives in a positive way?”
“If we can’t figure out why we want students to engage in a making project, is the project worth doing?”
We don’t believe there’s a single answer to the question “what is purposeful making?” because even for ourselves, the answer seems to change by project, by class, and by when in the school year the project happens. So we decided to try to gather a group of maker educators who would also be interested in this topic and work together to explore all the different ways making projects can be purposeful.
In the collection of blog posts below, we’ve asked each participant to share what their thoughts on purposeful making is to them, their students, and/or their settings and give some examples of projects they have done or plan to do that demonstrate these ideas. We hope that you will find the variety of voices, perspectives, and examples of purposeful making interesting and useful for your own practice.