Making is integral to STEM education—what better application for STEM than building innovations that solve global problems? Teaching Making is not about just imparting knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It’s about giving a more significant life purpose to kids. Therefore, it’s essential to teach them the practice of making, robotics for kids and coding for kids in the best possible way to help them become pioneer innovators in the future.
So, let’s understand the practice of making.
The Maker’s Mindset
Makers may not always have proper training or adhere to the same standards as those who work in the field professionally. Even as novices, makers are multidisciplinary and bridge disciplinary barriers.
According to Shunryu Suzuki, famous Zen Buddhist monk and author of Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, there are numerous options in the maker’s head, but only a select handful in the expert’s. Makers are at ease not knowing everything.
Children will need patience and perseverance as becoming a maker requires those traits. Making is about conducting plenty of iterations A method or experiment is iterated upon repeatedly until improved results are obtained or until mastery has been attained.
Anyone willing to work and iterate over an idea would both learn everything they needed to know and improve at what they were doing.
It will appear untidy to experiment and improvise—to navigate one’s way into and through a process, especially if doing so entails learning to use new tools or skills. Such a STEM learning environment is ideal. .As we become more skilled through practice and repetition, we start to understand our unique process, which is helpful when new issues and difficulties arise.
With making, often things won’t be right from the start. Rapid prototyping allows us to iterate more frequently while utilizing technologies that can make creating prototypes simpler and less expensive.
Before any attempt to construct anything, a significant amount of time is spent planning, creating specifications, and conducting research, according to how the formal process is frequently taught. Instead of incurring the expenditures of producing the thing, this paradigm makes ideation cheaper, and iterations happen by discussing the proposal.
Thanks to technology, the number of iterations can be increased overall while decreasing the time between iterations. We can develop a rudimentary prototype from an idea and then iterate—the more, the better.
Early physical representation and frequent revision are necessary for this process. From the perspective of a maker, that is a fundamental, natural design notion.
Another process that kids in the process of making can utilize is the design thinking process. Teams employ design thinking, a non-linear, iterative approach, to comprehend users, question presumptions, redefine challenges, and develop creative solutions for prototypes and tests.
To put it simply, design thinking is a process that seeks to solve highly complicated problems.
Complex problems are those that lack a final answer.
Examples of complex problems include things like climate change, poverty, and world hunger. These issues need to be addressed from various perspectives, and rather than searching for a single solution, they call for a solution that considers how the problem may alter over time.
The various steps in it include:
The design process is represented by design thinking, which enables discussion. It isn’t the procedure per se. The method we go through is, in fact, less logical and linear than formal models would have us believe.
The Maker’s Process
Formal education can occasionally exclude the fun and excitement in favour of focusing on standards, procedures, and systems that appear to end in themselves. Typically, engineering students have significantly fewer options regarding the courses they enrol in and the free time they have to create things. In other words, students aren’t urged to experiment.
Some feel that associating tinkering with engineering places the engineering profession in a negative light. They disapprove of makers who identify as engineers and lack the necessary credentials.
Makers’ processes may be unstructured, disorganized, and natural. It involves frequent failures, misunderstandings, and clumsiness but also manages to go past them. Instead of an ideal or model, their approach represents real life.
A maker believes that if it works for me, it must work. If not, keep doing it differently. Additionally, producers pick up knowledge from others; they can evaluate their method, contrast it with others, and borrow what they require.
What’s essential to understand is that the process of making is not very different from engineering. However, what differentiates engineering and technology from other STEM subjects like science and mathematics is that an engineer or maker looks at solving various problems more than a scientist.
Where scientists aim at the truth about nature, engineering involves working deliberately with incomplete information and acting on solutions deemed adequate to complete the task, even though they are not ideal.
Engineering is practical, mainly when done by makers. Makers are also aware of their shortcomings, including knowledge or skill limitations. Even so, it doesn’t stop them from producing.
Makers like problem-solving and are willing to invest a lot of time in trying to find solutions. Some people might ignore the issue or look elsewhere for an answer. A creator believes there will be some unquantifiable value from experience alone and wanting to solve the problem.
Karl Popper, a famous 20th-century science philosopher, linked life to problem-solving. He considered all organisms as inventors of a certain degree who solved problems: some good, some not that good.
Going by the thoughts of Popper, we can say that an education that doesn’t address pressing issues isn’t truly about learning, just as a person who isn’t solving difficulties isn’t living.
The goal of education then should be to transform kids into makers by inspiring them in a way that is significant to them, meaningful to their communities, and enables them to bring their ideas to life in ways they perhaps didn’t realize were possible.
On a final note, it can be said that making is the energy, drive and power within to get inspired. After all, the word enthusiasm itself originates from Greek and signifies the God within. In our context, enthusiasm can also be compared with the maker within. The unique feature of enthusiasm is that it feeds itself.