Empowered Educators Make Powerful Learners

March 20, 2019

Every innovation starts with the recognition that change is not only good, but also necessary to make a difference in someone’s life. Teachers who participate in Maker Boot Camp at the Scott Family Amazeum quickly recognize that the changes they experience translate to a richer, deeper learning experience for their students (and themselves). Taking educators through a process to discover making and tinkering at Maker Boot Camp leads to a fundamental shift in the relationship between teacher and students.

For sixth-grade science teacher Stacey Harris, Maker Boot Camp provided the support and confidence she needed to give students autonomy in the classroom. “Maker Boot Camp definitely encouraged me to let my students do more this year,” says Stacey.SHarisMBC blog1

Her experience at Maker Boot Camp came after an initial year of trying to incorporate making in her classroom. “I was doing the basics, cardboard . . . but once I experienced boot camp, we started to create things ourselves,” says Stacey. What began as a personal growth experience, shifted to a collective experience for all involved. The “I” became “we” and everyone benefited.

Her class started to make and tinker not only to complete an assignment in a fun, interactive way, but also to more deeply dive into content and context. “We made paper circuits, did textiles and weaving, and worked with tools in the shop. I showed [students] my example of [paper circuits] from maker boot camp and they were able to figure it out on their own,” says Stacey. The opportunity to reverse engineer expanded learning, deepened engagement, and benefited student learning in multiple different ways, and, infused curiosity into the curriculum, even if not expressly stated in the science standards.

Gaining the knowledge of how to do those types of things myself during Maker Boot Camp gave me the confidence to provide greater opportunities for students.

Stacey was more willing to let students use tools that even she had not used before. “Gaining the knowledge of how to do those types of things myself during Maker Boot Camp gave me the confidence to provide greater opportunities for students to experiment with tools and techniques. I was able to give them the basics to get started but leave some discovery for them because of my personal experience and understanding,” continues Stacey.

She also influenced others in her school who noticed the impact of making and tinkering and wanted to learn more about incorporating practices into their classrooms and the school’s makerspace.

SHarrisMBC blog2Stacey credits her experience as a learner during Maker Boot Camp for helping her implement making and tinkering. “The way Maker Boot Camp was set up, the purpose, procedure, and end goal . . . made me more comfy opening that up to my students and encouraging them,” says Stacey. “It’s not just about the making; it’s also about the way the Amazeum facilitates making and tinkering.” Ideas presented during Maker Boot Camp guided the way making and tinkering presented to students and teachers leading them to be more confident, courageous and empowered learners.

“If I hadn’t had the Amazeum, the Maker Boot Camp, and all the continuing support to give me more confidence and understanding, I don’t think I would have had the courage to do what I did in the past year,” says Stacey.  Maker Boot Camp helped Stacey find new ways for students to continue their own learning. “It really is making a difference,” concludes Stacey.

Maker Boot Camp is now taking registrations from innovative educators interested in making and tinkering for this summer’s session from June 4 – 7. Information on Maker Boot Camp fees, discounts, and programming found on the tinkering and making page at amazeum.org.