MAKER CAMP SHOULD BE A PART OF YOUR SUMMER THIS YEAR
Each year Make: hosts a special program. Designed as an exploration of all things Do-ItYourself for young makers, Maker Camp is chock full of projects, adventures, inspiration, and community. Camps are hosted by schools, makerspaces, libraries, camps, and youth organisations of all kinds. The best part? It’ s completely free to anyone.
Last year, like many educational programs facing the new world of COVID-19, Maker Camp went virtual. But for 2021, it’ s set to return with a new flexibility to support camps that are online, virtual, or hybrid. The goal is to make Maker Camp as accessible as possible to every learner, while supporting parents and educators through this summer and beyond.
Maker Camp is especially important this year. Camp is designed to build resilience, confidence, creativity, and community -- all things kids need now more than ever. More than that makers are problem solvers, dedicated to making the world a better place. Maker Camp is one way to empower another generation with the skills to conquer any challenge.
The heart of Maker Camp is hands-on exploration. Through step-by-step skill builders campers learn electronics, robotics, computer science, 3D printing, and engineering. These high-tech STEM topics are blended with traditional skills like fiber arts, woodworking, paper crafting, culinary arts, and more to create new and innovative projects.
Campers learn by doing, directly prototyping, and inventing. But it’ s more than that. They choose the direction for their projects, taking it beyond instruction and transforming their creation. Direct experimentation with the materials makes learning engaging and fun, while the freedom to chart their own course and the time to play in the relaxed atmosphere of Maker Camp offers opportunities to grow.
In their book Invent To Learn, Martinez and Stagner explain that hands-on learning “ acknowledges that the power of making something comes from a question or impulse that the learner has... Learners are empowered to connect with everything they know, feel, and wonder to stretch themselves into learning new things. ” This kind of learning is messy and often unpredictable, but it forms a deep connection between the camper and what they have made. After a year of screens, hands-on projects provide campers the chance to reconnect with the real world in new ways.
In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck explains, “Th[e] growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way — in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and experience. ” This concept is, in many ways, at the heart of what a maker is.
Makers learn by doing. They play. They adapt. They experiment through trial-and-error. They know that you may not succeed on the first try. Failure is seen as a beginning not an end. They learn to take risks and not fear trying something new. They become fearless flexible thinkers, ready to meet the next challenge and explore new possibilities. Maker Camp gives kids the space, mentally and physically, to create without the restrictions often found in the classroom.
As the world fought COVID-19, we all watched as scientists, doctors, businesses, and others stepped up to deal with the crisis. Through Maker Camp, kids frame themselves as people who can solve problems, invent solutions, and help others. When they next encounter a challenge -- big or small -they ’ll have the confidence to face it and the skills to fix it.
Connecting with a Community
One of the things many kids missed with distance learning was connecting with their friends and classmates. Summer, however, provides the perfect backdrop for building friendships and community. Working together on projects at camp offers both the opportunity to collaborate and the freedom to be creative, whether online or in person.
“The Maker Movement celebrates the sharing of knowledge, as well as the sharing of tools and time. Many makers learn their skills through studying, formally or informally, with other makers, ” writes AnnMarie Thomas in Making Makers. Sharing ideas and resources is an important part of being a maker. Because group projects often require many different skill sets, there is a place for every type of maker to be included. Campers quickly learn to mentor one another, teaching and learning from each other.
Working together through successes and failures is an important part of Maker Camp. Strong bonds are formed through these experiences. Kids learn that they aren ’t alone; they have others on their team who can help them take their wildest, biggest, most exciting ideas and make them a reality. Knowing that you are part of something bigger than yourself is a powerful feeling.
The Nuts and Bolts
Hosting a Maker Camp is as easy as registering on the Maker Camp website (www.makercamp.com). The program is completely free and open to anyone interested in being a Maker Camp Community Partner. Camp begins the first week of July, with training and planning resources going online in June. The program is flexible enough that leaders can host a few sessions when time permits, or plan weeks worth of content.
This year Maker Camp offers seven Adventures that Maker Camp Community Partners can mix-andmatch to fit their needs: Arts & Crafts, Coding & Robotics, E-Textiles, Fabrication, Electronics, STEM, and Back to Basics. These Adventures will have various Trails campers can follow, each composed of projects you can use independently or together. Projects can be filtered by age, skill level, and time to complete. Materials lists, templates, and printable instructions for offline use are all included. MAker Camp has never been easier to implement.
These have been tough years for us all. Offering Maker Camp to young scientists, engineers, artists, and makers is more vital this summer than ever before -- and not just to the students. As David Lang suggests in Zero to Maker, “As a parent or role model, help amplify the maker spirit inside your child (even as you rekindle the spark yourself). ” #WeAreAllMakers
- Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Random House. - Lang, D. (2017). Zero to Maker: A Beginners' Guide to the Skills, Tools, and Ideas of the Maker Movement. (2nd ed.) Maker Media Inc. - Martinez, S.L. and Stager, G. (2013). Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. (1st edition). Constructing Modern Knowledge Press. - Thomas, A. (2014). Making Makers: Kids Tools, and the Future of Innovation. Maker Media, Inc.
Sandy is the Maker Camp Coordinator for Make: Community. She is also the author of The Big Book of Maker Camp Projects with McGraw-Hill, and owner of Kaleidoscope Enrichment, LLC.