Sure, the maker spirit is alive and well at a makers space such as MIDAS, but how do you encourage it in your child in this modern, device-driven age? We’ve got a few suggestions.
Humans are, by their very nature, makers. Tinkering, building, disassembling, inventing, innovating. These are not only the touchstones of what has become known as the Maker Movement but human evolution, for the most part.
Today, these fundamentals of making are being encouraged and nurtured very specifically, particularly when it means inspiring our kids off of the screens and devices that have become ubiquitous with modern human experience.
The Maker Movement, or what is this emerging social exercise promoting a creative, artisan, innovative spirit, encourages children and adults alike to explore their world through curiosity, discovery, and a hands-on approach to learning.
The maker spirit thrives at MIDAS where we believe that Making is about helping people realize that they have the ability to solve problems and explore options and alternatives as they create something new and potentially innovative, even disruptive. We believe that Making is great for everyone, no matter their age, to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills – by following their curiosity, exploring the things they love!
Here are a few suggestions for nurturing the Maker in your child from our in-house Maker expert:
- Start with their interests and passions
Interests can be so diverse: music, fashion, fishing, race cars, motorcycles, video games, and so much more. It doesn’t matter; a maker spirit begins with whatever sparks your child’s imagination and curiosity. As long as it’s something they love, chances are they’ll be keen to learn more about it, including how it’s made and how it works. “It’s important to identify a child’s interests – their passion – and provide related activities,” according to MIDAS Fab Lab Director, Brad Pommen.
- Encourage curiosity about how things work
Everyone has some old electronics or appliances lying around which are wonderfully appealing for taking apart and exploring what’s inside. Curiosity and a willingness to ask questions are key. “It’s fun to see how things work and think about ways to make them better,” Pommen encourages.
- Build something new
It can be as simple as Legos or cardboard, writing a computer program using Scratch, or using a sewing machine and craft materials to make a Halloween costume. Let the child’s interests guide, but it’s certainly OK to help inspire based on upcoming events, holidays, or merely to expose them to something out of the ordinary.
- Failure is your friend
Failure can be hard for all of us to get our heads around but can be doubly so for youngsters. However, as any successful innovator or disruptor will tell you, invention and innovation are founded on trial and error – mostly error! Brad understands that failure is a natural and inevitable part of the creative process, “Celebrating failure is fundamental to what we do here at MIDAS!” Accepting and embracing failure is an integral part of the design process and helps to create an environment where aspiring makers understand that failure is actually a safe place where they can learn valuable lessons from their mistakes, and feel more confident taking risks.
- Find a community
In addition to failure as a Maker fundamental, collaboration and sharing ideas are integral to the Maker experience. In order to continue learning, it’s important to help your child connect with others who share their interests. Your school may offer a robotics club or Makerspace and encourage them to attend local Maker camps. There are online communities and resources as well such as websites like Make Magazine, Instructables.com, and DIY.org. For the real go-getters, encourage them to initiate their own groups or clubs to help foster and develop their Maker spirit!
- Participate in a fun maker event
A wonderful way to motivate the Maker in your child is to encourage them to participate in local or online competitions or events. Like clubs or groups, fun events such as the Kootenay Contraption Contest or the Selkirk GLOWS RobotGames, are founded on the principles of collaboration and sharing. Fab Lab Director and RobotGames founder, Brad Pommen understands the positive and inspiring impact these events can have on children’s competency and learning even beyond the event itself, “Learning how to build, program and compete a robot (in RobotGames) combines programming technologies,” Pommen added. “Robotics introduces logic; engineering speaks to the design aspects;and maker is putting the whole physical package together…”
Ultimately, Making is just a terrific way for young people to explore their creativity and imagination. More than that, it’s a great way for parents to enjoy fun, quality time with their child, learning and creating.