1. Book Review

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What makes a maker? In this book, AnnMarie Thomas contends that all children are makers. Sometimes adulthood get in the way, children begin to fear doing something the wrong way; they turn to the phrase “I’m not good at that sort of thing” (Thomas xi). This book aims to help foster a continual love of learning in these children, arming them with certain maker characteristics that eradicate the fear. By eradicating that fear, the child has a better chance of maintaining the joy of making throughout their life. There is also the hope that the adults reading this book will remember the joy and embrace it themselves. To accomplish this goal, Thomas identifies several attributes shared by makers who have maintained their love of learning and making into adulthood. These makers are curious explorers, whimsical, unafraid to try new things, committed to helping others, persistent, likely to draw inspiration from unlikely sources, sharers, and optimistic about having  a positive impact on the world. This book goes through each one by one, offering examples of how real makers have exemplified these attributes and providing ideas for how each may be harnessed to encourage these maker character traits in children. Additionally, Thomas encourages readers to be mindful of the journey. The process of making is the key, not the final product. Making sure kids find the joy of each new discovery at each step in the process and continue to do so as they grow up is the ultimate key of this book.

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The Perspective

Making Makers was authored by AnnMarie Thomas. A professor at the School of Engineering at the University of St. Thomas, Thomas has devoted her research to learning about engineering design in PreK – 12 education. On of her maker projects with children involves squishy circuits; play-dough that is either conductive or non conductive is used with all ages to sculpt circuits. Additionally, Thomas was a Founding Executive Director of the Maker Education Initiative, a nonprofit that provides educators and institutions that want participate and create maker education programming with training, resources, and a community of support.

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Science Buddies Squishy Circuit Frog

 

Affiliated tools, materials, and products

Above all this book sights drawing inspiration and materials from unlikely sources of inspiration. Anything from your Grandmother’s old sewing machine in the attic to explosives can be used, but the most important thing is using the materials in a way that is self driven and interesting to the individual.

Tools: woodworking tools, musical instruments, kitchen spatulas/forks/etc, electronic parts, and computers.

Materials: legos and other Kid-Friendly kits, paint, fabric, edible things, costumes, and circuits.

Products: software/code, food, clothes, mechanical or electronic devices (robots), models, music, light and sound instruments, and games.

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Defining Making

This book offers a very broad explicit definition of makers spaces, as places where people get together to use tools and work on projects. In my opinion, you cannot define making (in the context of this book) without including the joy. It could be the joy of taking something apart to see how it works before making it again or the bittersweet joy of seeing a deceased parent’s sewing machine bringing joy to your child. Besides the joy, I think this book also highlights the concept of learning through making. Whether by making you are fostering a lifelong love of learning or actually learning about circuits with play-dough, it is important that the desire persistently learn be present or encouraged. A maker can be many things and have many different attributes. This book defines making as needing only the joy of doing and learning through the process.

 

 

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