The evolution of making and its connection to learning is fascinating to watch. The application in schools and libraries has evolved rapidly—becoming more complex and holistic and embracing both high and low tech, or as the wonderful robot created for us by Tom Cocotos (right) celebrates, a fruitful combination of materials. Along the way, making is having a positive impact on how kids learn and transforming how they feel about the world around them.
Three years ago, when we published our first Maker Issue, we were in the early days of understanding what the movement would mean for libraries. Way beyond a fad, making has been embraced in schools and libraries. To be sure, it’s not always easy to know where to start—and SLJ has been there all along for guidance—with executive editor Kathy Ishizuka on point—in ongoing coverage and learning events such as our online Maker Workshops.
Our May package, rich with 12 features, explores the evolution of making and showcases model programs to glean ideas from, with resources to put to work in your setting. We also cover efforts to formalize the understanding of it as a teaching method (see Laura Fleming’s “Don’t Let Makerspaces Be A Passing Trend”) and an effort under way by MIT and Maker Ed to develop a related assessment tool (see Kara Yorio’s “MIT Developing Assessments To Quantify Makerspace Educational Value). As the movement matures and is integrated into our institutions, considering how to create equitable access to programs and develop sustainable funding becomes increasingly important (see “Maker Grows Up”by Grace Hwang Lynch). There is so much more—don’t miss Amy Holcomb’s guide to a certain substance that makes some folks wary in “Slime Science,” for instance, and “A Maker Booklist” from some of SLJ’s reviews editors (see p. 42).
Recently my nine-year-old daughter, who made an appearance in my editorial for the first Maker Issue (“Make It So,” May 2015), showed me an old shoestring and requested some blueberries to make it blue. I loved the idea—who wouldn’t? Mostly, though, I loved that her request sprang from a desire to create what she wanted using known and available materials—rather than simply asking for new shoelaces. Boom, those old laces destined for the garbage were on their way to be refurbished and reused—just one small example of the power of making to counter our disposable culture.
That shoelace moment jelled a key outcome of a making mind-set for me—that it is a force for good, as the minds that will inherit the future come to see that they can reshape, and improve, the world around them. It is also, as Marva Hinton finds in “Makerspaces Help Kids Tap Potential, Find Confidence, Success, and Friendships,” a path toward self-confidence, and can inform new avenues for the future, enabling kids to find themselves in the process. The world is a place that is constantly being shaped by invention, and learning by making helps foster agility in the face of a challenge. As kids engage in making, they find out how things work, and it encourages them to scope out a better way ahead. Their sense of agency is palpable—I suspect you will feel it, too, when you read about the many children of all ages who are getting hands-on here. They are learning that they can shape their world, and their choices point to good things to come.