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Show 1628: Maker Education
Air Date: July 10, 2016
Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” I’m Rob McClendon. So what do you want to be when you grow up? Not an uncommon question for most young people, but one that can often bring just a perplexed look. But what if the problem does not lie with the lack of an answer, but with our question? Maybe what we should be asking is what fascinates you or even better, what do you want to know more about? Which is what the organizers of a camp called STEAMmaker hope to help students and teachers find with hands-on education.
Austin Moore: Think back on your time in the classroom. Most of us can dig up at least one memory of a lecture that bored even the teacher giving it, accompanied by restless, sometimes defiant students. This is a scene that we may soon see evaporate in a puff of steam.
Ginger Lewman: The most well know definition is science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. And it’s a combination of bringing these content pieces together where it can mimic more of the real world.
Austin: Ginger Lewman teaches and advocates for this model of classroom instruction, where learning is guided by curiosity.
Lewman: We believe in the tinkering, the making aspect of learning, of fun. You know, so long school has been sitting at a table and doing worksheets, and there’s a huge movement now of let’s get a lot more active in the classroom, where all levels of kids can really find true levels of engagement and interest.
Austin: That is why these student and teachers have all gathered at Enid, Oklahoma’s, Waller Middle School. Oklahoma CareerTech’s Jeremy Zweiacker.
Jeremy Zweiacker: So this camp is actually funded through Carl Perkins, which is a piece of legislation at the federal level that gives states money for career and technical education. From the outside looking in, it’s gonna look like a really cool summer camp for kids. Bringing students in and giving them an opportunity to learn and learn in a way that they might not normally learn, through maker education. Inside looking out, it is teacher professional development. And so we are working with the teachers, the instructors, on how to do project-based learning.
Rhoni Herrell: Oh, my goodness, it helps so much to do this so that I can help troubleshoot problems in the classroom. So when they have a problem, instead of saying well, you need to look at the help screen or you need to Google it, then I can at least go through the process.
Austin: Rhoni Herrell is here discovering new ways she can guide her middle school math students through technologies that have already captured their interest like coding for apps.
Herrell: After sitting down and using the coding program instead of just watching the kids do it, I can see how I can tie sequencing and patterning and different things like that in using the coding programs. Maybe it is going to look messy. But sometimes learning is messy, and so, I’m OK with that.
Austin: Coding is just one of the stations at this week’s camp. There is also 3-D printing, music, wearable technology, and that’s just the beginning.
Lewman: One of the things we are doing is called autopsy and reconstruction, where people get to take apart everyday objects and autopsy, analyze, what is this? How are these screws? How’s it held together? What’s the power source? What makes it do its thing? And then they get to reconstruct several different devices into a new, awesome Frankenstein character. And so last, uh, yesterday, the very first one we had for this camp, they brought one of those Speak and Say, you know it has the switch and it turns and says, “The cow says moo.” And they took the sound card to that. The sound card! And put it to a subwoofer that they had reconstructed. Now, that this is really loud, and they said this would be a great toy for kids who have learning disabilities or hearing disabilities. And I thought what imaginations are getting developed here.
Austin: Imaginations like that of Ruben Daniels.
Ruben Daniels: I hope it just kinda, like, gives me something fun to do but at the same time something that I’m actually, like, learning from and creating something and actually doing something, instead of, like, sitting around playing on my phone or something like that.
Austin: When I spoke with Ruben, he was designing a project for the 3-D printer.
Daniels: When you mess up and then you go back and fix it you’re, like, one step ahead. So then you can go back, and you can go a step or two further before you, like, mess up again. And then you can go back and fix it, and it just helps progress you through the process.
Austin: But when we first spoke, he was at the stomp rocket station.
Daniels: You just, like, trial and error until you figure out, like, how to make it fly straight and, like, just all those different things, make sure it is not leaking air anywhere.
Austin: Trial and error. And then trying again. That is the point of STEAM.
Lewman: So much in life and school is about keeping kids safe. It’s about making sure that they don’t make mistakes because as parents and as teachers it breaks our hearts to see them disappointed. But really, in the real world that’s where we learn and grow. It’s when we experience some sort of failure and then have the opportunity to recover. And I want to do that more in school with kids because there’s so many kids right now where we are telling them they how they are wrong, slow, weak and stupid, and they’re not. They just don’t memorize well or they aren’t strong readers because of some sort of disability. Likewise, we have kids who are really brilliant and who are great at memorizing, but how many of us know kids who when they get out into the real world, they fall flat on their faces because there’s nobody there telling them what to, when to, how to. It breaks my heart, too, just as much. And when they start to get hands-on where they can see and feel and touch and experience, the lightbulbs, they don’t come on, they explode.
Austin: Creating independent learners, thinkers and doers, all through a little STEAM.
Rob: Now, one of the goals of the federal program that helps fund the STEAMmaker Camp is to direct students to nontraditional careers like female firefighters or male nurses, all in an effort to strengthen our workforce with more diverse backgrounds. Now, when we return, we visit a coding camp.