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Few trends in K-12 ed tech are as hot—or as under-researched—as "Maker" education.

The term generally refers to using a wide variety of hands-on activities (such as building, computer programming, and sewing) to support academic learning and the development of a mindset that values playfulness and experimentation, growth and iteration, and collaboration and community.

Typically, "Making" involves attempting to solve a particular problem, creating a physical or digital artifact, and sharing that product with a larger audience. Often, such work is guided by the notion that process is more important than results.

The Maker Movement has its roots outside of school, in institutions such as science museums and in the informal activities that everyday people have taken part in for generations. It began exploding about a decade ago, thanks in large part to the enthusiastic audience of Make magazine and the popularity of public events such as Maker Faires (the most well-known of which was hosted by President Barack Obama at the White House in 2014.)

Recently, teachers from throughout the Greater Peoria region engaged in the first of what will surely be an ongoing effort to support "Maker" education. During our gathering, teachers were provided with pipe cleaners, legos, and little bits and left to create.

Key to the idea of making is setting the stage - here are a few open-ended questions to set the stage for "Making":

  1. Make something that moves
  2. Make something wintery
  3. Make something that illustrates how you feel about today
  4. Make a machine
  5. Make something that tells a story
  6. Make an animal
  7. Make something that represents your identity
  8. Make something personally meaningful
  9. Make something that is a joke
  10. Make something science-y
  11. Make a poem
  12. Make a vehicle
  13. Make something that lights up
  14. Make something that would make your students laugh
  15. Make something that is a visual representation of your teaching philosophy
  16. Make something that makes you happy
  17. Make something that is a gift for someone at your table
  18. Make a creature