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MakerEd Stage: Educators Thinking Out of the Box

On October 2, 2016, Makerfaire opened its gates providing a large crowd entrance to “the greatest show on earth.” People rushed the grounds with hopes to beat some of the long lines, such as the “build your own Drone” tent. Vendors begin their talks and demos as crowds of onlookers thirsty for the latest and greatest begin to search for the hottest technology available.

Shortly after the opening, a small group of educators, from the tri-state area and one from California, are huddled up with the program coordinator talking about a small game plan. In the middle of this group of Educators, I am found going over in my head possible responses and stories I can share with the crowd. Butterflies begin to encircle my stomach as I pick up my head and notice that I am amongst some of the most amazing and innovative educators in the Tri-State. R2D2 is keeping a small crowd of onlookers busy with his lights and noises as the educators begin to get ready for the MakerEd “Stories from the Cutting Edge: Meet k-12 Maker Educators.” As the program coordinator begins to get on the mic and try to get the attention of nearby people to come join and listen to this amazing group talk about “Making” in education. The crowd begins to shuffle in and begin to wonder what the educators will say.

Rewind 2 years back to Makerfaire 2014. My first Makerfaire will go down in my personal history as a ground shaking revolution in my heart and mind as I experience Makerfaire for the first time. Entering the grounds, I was taken back by the large crowds, amount of vendors, and the innovations being displayed for the public. Accompanied by my neighbor, who has been involved in Making and 3D Printing for years, I was not only amazed by what I saw, but literally witnessing a change in my teaching philosophy and passions as all of a sudden I knew I was a “Maker.” In the distance I see a banner called “Make Education” and stopped by to see a group of educators talking and conversing on the Maker Revolution in the classroom. As I stared in amazement, I said to myself, “I need to be on this stage one day!” As the Makerfaire drew to an end I returned back home to NJ, I began to research how this maker revolution and 3D Printing can be utilized in the classroom setting. I came across the site and found “playbooks” for an array of different age groups and began to entrench myself into this revolutionary world. A short time afterwards, I received my first 3D Printer, a Makerbot, through a Donor Choose campaign and my story as a Maker Educator began. I became a passionate educator in love with 3D printing and “making.”

Two years later, Im starring into space reminded of this time. As I look around, I see my daughter and family seated in the front row, glowing with pride that I was speaking on an Educator Panel. As the panel begins, the nerves calm and I simply speak about my experiences In the urban district of Union City, NJ and express my passions for change in educaiton. As the mic is being passed around to the other educators, I find myself still being a learner and soaking in the responses from the other educators. This experience not only becomes an interest for the crowd, but find myself having much in common with the other speakers and begin to bounce ideas off each other. Never have I been involved in such synergy and idea sharing as I have with this panel. One of the educators is one of my early inspirations in the world of Making, Kevin Jarret. Right before we go on to speak, he reassures me that I have done great things and to “just have fun with it,” and thats exactly what I did. The group begins to relate their stories and experiences and the crowd is clearly involved and soaking all the great world from the panel.

The time up on stage zoomed by, however, the knowledge and words expressed on that panel continue to resonate with me till this day. What an amazing and awesome experience it was to share the stage with an amazing collection of minds and revolutionaries of the education world. I spend most of my time speaking of the “urban maker” but loved what all the other educators had to say as well. We all provided the crowd with an array of resources, ideas, and perspectives in the world of MakerEd. This was truly one of my finest moments as an educator and left feeling so humbled to share the stage with this group of educators. The highlight happened when the discussion was over, and my daughter looks over and expresses she would like to be like her dad and share knowledge with a crowd. Maker faire 2016 will forever be remembered and close to my heart as a day of pure AWESOMENESS!

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