Maker Boot Camp Transforms Educators
Boot Camp conjures up images of testing limits, hard work, determination, and pushing boundaries. There is also a certain expectation from Boot Camp, the expectation of a physical, mental, and procedural transformation that result in self-improvement. And that is pretty much what happens during Maker Boot Camp at the Scott Family Amazeum. By the end of the week, educators who participate experience a transformation in the way they work, think, and how they engage students in their classrooms, libraries, and makerspaces.
“Maker Boot Camp is a transformative professional development workshop focused on developing making skills in educators through hands-on workshops, networking, and working with the Amazeum team,” says Sarah Weeden, Educational Partnerships Specialist at the Amazeum. At Maker Boot Camp, educators become learners in a safe environment where creativity drives inquiry, failure fuels learning, and process outweighs product.
The way ideas were presented in Maker Boot Camp also helped guide me in ways to present to my students.
“Educators participate in different complementary workshops during the four days of Maker Boot Camp that all relate to making and tinkering,” says Sarah. “It’s really a week of guided, open-ended practice with tools and materials, observation of high-quality facilitation, and time for reflection.” Throughout the week, the Amazeum team facilitates inquiry and connects activities to learning outcomes in a way that builds confidence in educators to create exciting learning environments for students. More importantly, educators build relationships with the Amazeum team and each other that scaffolds a support network. “Educators learn more than just how to implement a making and tinkering program, they identify as makers with a corresponding mindset ready to figure it out and ask for help when they need it,” continues Sarah.
Educators learn to push through frustration and overcome limitations just as students do when making and tinkering. Each workshop presents new tools, materials, and challenges. Working with circuit blocks and electricity during one workshop brought out the fear and frustration in the educators. “They have to work through the process of iteration as they try to figure out how to complete a task,” says Sarah. “With each discovery, they get that feeling of success that motivates them to continue with the task. Just like kids, they work through the challenge because they want to figure it out.”
The thing I love the most is that the kids who normally struggle in traditional teachings seem to excel at makerspace, and the kids who normally excel tend to struggle a little. It is good for this role reversal to happen.
At the end of the week, educators face one final challenge that requires them to muster all the physical, mental and procedural skills they mastered during Maker Boot Camp as they collaborate to create a giant chain reaction.
Educators who participated last year commented that the experience taught them more than making and tinkering. They left Maker Boot Camp with a new perspective on teaching and learning and an awareness of the student experience. “The biggest take away for me, is not having to have a finished project,” one educator commented after returning to her classroom. “The idea that the creative process itself is the goal. This has impacted my teaching not only in my expectations for students, but in how I help them see their assignments.” “The thing I love the most is that the kids who normally struggle in traditional teaching seem to excel in a makerspace,” commented another educator. The confidence Maker Boot Camp instilled in educators carried through to how they worked with students, transferring the confidence to the learners as well and transforming both teacher and learner.
Applications now being accepted for Maker Boot Camp 2019. For more information on Maker Boot Camp visit amazeum.org/educators and click the making and tinkering tab, or call Mindy Porter, Director of Education, at 479-696-9280 ext. 206.