Purposeful Making by Erin Head

(written by Erin for Designing Purposeful Making Experiences, Jun 2017)

I believe that all making is purposeful. Individuals will rarely take up a making project without there being a need for them to create something or to experience the process of making it. The notion of purposefulness, for me, becomes more muddled as the maker experience moves into a formal school setting. The question then becomes, “Whose purpose?” A project may fulfill the needs of a teacher or the school system, but not the student. Conversely, it may provide a great experience for the student and be purposeful to them, but not be seen as having purpose from the school’s perspective, depending on its values and mission.


Purposeful Making by Dominic Parker

(written by Dominic for Designing Purposeful Making Experiences, Jun 2017)

Purposeful making, to me, is making that meets the needs and/or wants of not only myself, or my students, or my school, or our community, but seeks to bring these categories together so that they can become more aware of their interconnectedness. Making can be meaningful to oneself personally, but it can become more meaningful when it helps the person to feel they can exist and contribute within the society around them in a capable and even unique way. This is why building a prototype for one’s own enjoyment can be just as meaningful as working in a team that is doing community outreach. Where the latter may be more explicitly focused outward, the former implicitly may be meaningful in that it allows a person to be present with one’s self, while also honing the skills or ideas that may positively impact one’s relationship with others.


Purposeful Making by Bryan Alvarez

(written by Bryan for Designing Purposeful Making Experiences, Jun 2017)

Meaning and purpose are forms of making. Meaning and purpose are created; they are not absolute. Meaningful making to me means “making something that does good in the world,” because that’s how I understand it to be used most often. But the act of making anything, even the act of interpreting something as “being made” assumes a meaning.

This makes sense to me because I have witnessed myself making meaning. I’ve spent time contemplating the act of making meaning and interpreting as it is imposed on my perceptions. That “marker” is a marker to me. I experience my perception of an object and notice myself say “marker” in my head. There’s a distinction there. That’s not a marker. It’s just a marker to me. I’m making the meaning up as I go.


Purposeful Making by Tina Hernandez

(written by Tina for Designing Purposeful Making Experiences, Jun 2017)

– What is purposeful or meaningful making? Start with a statement.

Purposeful making drive some deeper understanding toward a stated educational goal.

Journey – How did you arrive at this statement/understanding? What experiences have you had that supported you to get there (at school, in life, etc.)?

If MAKING  can be inextricably connected to driving deeper learning, then it will become the cornerstone of academia, because It calls upon us to inspire a  love of learning with a set of instructional tools that are easily adopted and applied. If we can point to all of the ways that Making encourages the heart AND cultivates the mind, the path from MAKING as an option to Making as central to learning is clearly charted.   More

Purposeful Making by Ed Crandall

(written by Ed for Designing Purposeful Making Experiences, Jun 2017)

Statement – What is purposeful or meaningful making? Start with a statement.
Purposeful Making leads students to understanding the design process.  They learn to take an idea or problem, find a workable solution and make it real through prototyping, testing, giving and receiving critique from their peers, and improving through several iterations to arrive at a useful item that exists in the real world.  They also learn many skills along the way, work with their hands, direct their own learning to a large degree, persist through difficulties and build a community in their class that they trust and help.  In many ways this parallels the skills the students will need to be successful when they leave school and enter the workforce in any job requiring collaboration (pretty much anything these days). More

Purposeful Making by Adam Singer

(written by Adam for Designing Purposeful Making Experiences, Jun 2017)

Children inherently love to build and create.. And when students have a their own meaningful connection to their work, feel their ideas are valued and that they are part of a collaborative and trusting class community, students can leverage that joyful love of making for the benefit of affecting positive change, bringing purpose to the deep struggles which come with problem solving.


Parent Creativity Lab Workshop – Creating Chairs from Cardboard

Welcome to our Parent Creativity Lab Workshop Blog Series where, this time, it’s the parents’ moment in the spotlight as they participate in a monthly designing and making activity.  Here at Lighthouse, we have parents apply themselves in these projects to experience maker-centered learning for themselves.  My teammate, Maritza Ortiz, translates as I do my best to facilitate and explain the parameters of each workshop.


Designing Making Experiences (DME) Workshops

Designing Making Experiences (DME) is a two-day workshop, hosted by Aaron Vanderwerff and Angi Chau, where educators gather to engage in hands-on making and design their own making curriculum to take back to their classrooms. The training alternates between the Creativity Lab at Lighthouse in Oakland and the Bourn Idea Lab at Castilleja School in Palo Alto. 


Student Making Spotlight – Stomp Rockets

Our 3rd graders built stomp rockets as a science project centered around design and redesign.  They started the unit by building rockets and as they learned more about their mistakes and successes they refined their design to perform better. This blog is a snapshot of one of their earlier tries.

Making allows students to tap into their passions, developing and exploring ideas as they learn.  This week, students’ excitement spilled over as they collaborated and designed stomp rockets.

A stomp rocket and launcher consists of PVC pipe, cross joints, end caps, a soda bottle and tape where the pipe is cut into the specs such as the diagram.  After all the PVC parts are assembled, the students created a rocket out of paper and secured an empty 2-liter soda bottle with tape.  When all parts are secured, the next and final step is to stomp on the empty soda bottle.  The air propels the rocket into air.  Here is one way to build it.

Ms. Hurley and Ms. Greig, the students’ teachers, challenged students to:

  • Form working groups
  • Assemble the materials
  • Test out the Rocket
  • Document results

Once they built their rockets, the assembled students gathered on the playground and tested out their creations. The energy was high with anticipation for testing their stomp rocket.


Student Spotlight: Learning through Mentoring

Antonio and Amani are working to create an automatic firing marshmallow gun, and in order to get to their final goal, they started out by building a manual marshmallow gun.  In this series of blog posts we are shining a light on our bright students as they create making projects in their in-school making class where they have complete control over the projects they are preparing to showcase at the Bay Area Maker Faire.