Make-to-Learn Symposium MakerStations

March 13, 2013, 9am-9pm @ the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers

ABOUT        PROGRAM        MAKERSTATIONS        PANELS       VENUE         


Leading maker education organizations arrived from across the country to share  creative ideas for makes and guiding pedagogical approaches. Hands-on experiences offered symposium participants opportunities to become comfortable with a range of technologies and materials from paper prototyping to visual programming.

**Images were posted to Instagram and Flickr – or visit our gallery.

MakerStations included:

(1) MAKESHOP Toolkit, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
(2) The Curiosity Machine: an online engineering design portal, Iridescent
(3) Technovation Challenge: Learn to Build a Mobile App, Iridescent
(4) FUSE: Leveled Challenge Sequences that scaffold STEAM learning, Northwestern University
(5) Making with Modkit, Modkit and Olin College of Engineering
(6) Tinkering to Learn: Exploring physical+digital making, MIT Media Lab
(7) Make a Beautiful Six-Word Memoir, National Writing Project
(8) Mozilla Makes and Hacks!, Mozilla Hive NYC
(9) Connect the Dots!, LevelUP
(11)  Tinkering Lab, Chicago Children’s Museum
(12) Learning on the Next Level: Gamekit & Playforce, Institute of Play
(13) Dream It, Design It, Fab It!, Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
(14) Toy Hacking with Maker Kids, Maker Kids
(15)  gadgITERATION, Design+Technology Program, Parsons The New School for Design
(16) DIY Paper Audio Speakers, Mt. Elliott Makerspace
(17) Hack-a-Shirt, Dreamyard and Hive Fashion
(18) SparkFun Education, Sparkfun Electronics and University of Colorado
(19) Caine’s Arcade Cardboard Challenge, Imagination Foundation

Presenters, please note that you will have access to Wi-Fi (with limited bandwidth), one round table for 10 people, and a large power strip of outlets. No other audio/visual materials will be available.

(1) MAKESHOP Toolkit
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
Funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh has developed an online MAKESHOP Toolkit for museums, educators and family audiences. The online toolkit is composed of three main sections: About, Resources and Make. The About section is an overview of the MAKESHOP exhibit at the Museum—the history, partners and related projects. The Resources section targets educators and informal learning environments as it explores the practical aspects of designing, supplying, facilitating and evaluating making experiences for diverse audiences. The Make section targets families, as it introduces makers to the tools, materials and processes of making, while showcasing projects young makers have made in MAKESHOP at the Museum, and the related tools, materials and processes used in such projects’ construction.

A companion Portfolio System lives in MAKESHOP, enabling Museum visitors to gather ideas, create profiles, scan their made products, and select the tools, materials and processes used in their creation. These entries populate the toolkit website, expanding the ideas, materials, tools and process combinations accessible to users of the website anywhere. Children and families are able to track the projects they make in MAKESHOP, as well as the tools and materials they have learned to use and with which they have developed skilled facility, continually adding to their personal portfolio.

We plan to showcase the website and portfolio system, as well as present examples of the manipulatives and strategies used in scaling authentic making experiences for family and school-based audiences.

(2) The Curiosity Machine: an online engineering design portal
Iridescent is a non-profit committed to inspiring curiosity, creativity and persistence in the next generation of students and their parents through hands-on science and engineering programs. The Curiosity Machine ( is an online tool developed by Iridescent that connects students to professional engineers through open-ended design activities. Using Iridescent’s model, engineering students and professions create design challenges, or open-ended prompts encouraging kids to build some sort of machine to achieve a goal or complete a task. Kids submit projects on the website to share their solutions to design challenges with other students, receive feedback from engineers, and gain badges to mark their accomplishments. All design challenges are meant to be completed with low cost, everyday materials. We particularly encourage parents to use the website with their child, to learn and make together.

Our MakerStation will showcase the Curiosity Machine on labtops, as well as having one of our hands-on activities (Build a Self-launching Catapult!) available for anyone to get their hands dirty and do some making! This will give other participants a sense for both how our design challenges are structured, and how kids and educators can interact with the website to complete these challenges. This can give others a perspective into our educational philosophy and how we have encouraged our Maker-based learning activities through our website format.

(3) Technovation Challenge: Learn to Build a Mobile App
Iridescent’s Technovation Challenge promotes women in technology by giving girls the skills and confidence they need to be successful in computer science and entrepreneurship. We aim to inspire girls to see themselves, not just as users of technology, but as inventors, designers, builders, and entrepreneurs in the technology industry. By showing girls that the high-tech world is an exciting place marked by collaboration and creativity, we hope to encourage more women to enter the field.

Technovation Challenge is a 12-week program that develops high school girls’ interest, skills, and confidence in computer science and entrepreneurship. The participants work in teams with teachers and professional mentors in technology to program mobile phone apps using App Inventor. The participants learn not only to program, but to think like entrepreneurs, generate innovative ideas, do market research, and write business plans. At the end of the program the teams pitch their app ideas and business plans. The winning team gets $10,000 to bring their app to market.

At our MakerStation visitors will build paper prototypes of phone apps and learn about coding and user design. Our activity will demystify app building and inspire participants to go home and build apps! We will also show short videos of female software engineers and designers (from Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.) to inspire girls and kids to become programmers and entrepreneurs. We will also give demos of App Inventor, a beginner, blocks-based programming language that we use as the basis of our free, Technovation Challenge program for girls.

(4) FUSE: Leveled Challenge Sequences that scaffold STEAM learning
Northwestern University
FUSE is a free-choice after-school learning environment that offers a set of interest-driven challenge sequences, organized into levels. The idea of leveled challenge sequences follows the basic logic of video game design principles (Salen & Zimmerman, 2004 & 2005). As in video games, our lowest levels are designed with heavy support that fades away as level difficulty increases.

This MakerStation will host a selection of our hands-on challenges, including kits containing physical components, and artifacts that inspire exploration and provide an understanding of the end product. Our selection will be available for participants to try, and will highlight different aspects of FUSE. For example, our “LED Color Lights” challenge sequence is a basic introduction to reading schematics and creating circuits, and is used as a stepping-stone for more advanced challenge sequences. The “Jewelry Designer” challenge sequence incorporates physical making on a 3D printer and gradually introduces three-dimensional design and spatial reasoning. The “Motorola Graphic Design” challenge was developed in partnership with Motorola designers to introduce the basic elements of design while creating a custom watch face for the MOTOACTV device. The first level of this challenge is simply picking a new background image for an analog watch, but by the end of the sequence, a collection of custom watch designs have been iteratively designed and tested on the device. These sequences showcase the leveled structure, the specialized language and knowledge built through making physical and digital artifacts, and our work with partners to develop challenge sequences with real-world relevance.

(5) Making with Modkit
Modkit and Olin College of Engineering
At Modkit, we have been adding features to enable makers in a variety of settings to incorporate electronics into their creations. The MakerStation will demonstrate the ways in which programming devices that maker spaces are likely to have around (various flavors of Wiring Boards, Arduinos, or low-cost MSP 430 launchpads) can be smooth for novices and powerful for experts. The desktop app and free online environment will be available for hands-on exploration.

(6) Tinkering to Learn: Exploring physical+digital making
MIT Media Lab
We invite participants to tinker with physical+digital making using MaKey MaKey and Scratch. With MaKey MaKey, you can create your own physical interfaces to computers, using everyday objects that conduct electricity (such as fruits or Play-Doh). Scratch is a programming language that enables you to create interactive media, such as stories, games, and animations. By using Scratch and MaKey Makey together, you can build creations that connect the physical world and the digital world in new and interesting ways.

Many educational settings emphasize a planning approach to making, in which you carefully develop a plan and then execute it. By contrast, MaKey Makey and Scratch were designed to be tinkerable, allowing you to easily try things out, experiment with ideas and materials, and continually revise and adapt. As you build and create with MaKeyMaKey and Scratch, you engage in tinkering as a way of learning, through exploring many pathways, iterating on creations, and embracing failures as opportunities. At this makerstation, we invite participants to experiment, play, and test out their ideas – and experience the joys of tinkering.

(7) Make a Beautiful Six-Word Memoir
National Writing Project
What makes six words about your own life beautiful? The font? The design? Associated images? The meaning of the words themselves? Or all of the above? Discover for yourself at the National Writing Project’s Maker table where you’ll create both an analog six-word memoir – with tools like scissors, magazines and gluesticks – and a digital version using Mozilla’s Thimble webmaker tool. In both cases, imagination and creativity and a willingness to analyze the similarities and differences required.

(8) Mozilla Makes and Hacks!
Mozilla Hive NYC
At this MakerStation, we’ll be practicing Mozilla’s “less yack more hack” approach to learning by making for and with the open web. We’ll use Mozilla’s creativity suite for a deep-dive into remixing videos, hacking webpages and creating user-generated projects.

(9) Connect the Dots!
Makers at the Connect the Dots Maker Station will make items that come to life when they are connected to items created by other makers. The projects will include a collaborative project where each person makes and leaves behind a ‘piece’ of the project as well as individual projects. Projects will make use of digital, physical and blended approaches to highlight the connections between our digital and physical worlds.

As participants experience the projects as a learner, notice how the connections between various disciplines are being made and think about ways you can leverage this to connect students’ interests to learning opportunities. Connect the Dots is being presented by LevelUP, a youth makerspace located in Ford City Mall. There we bring unexpected learning opportunities to teens in an environment where “Teens MAKE to Learn and LEARN to Make!

(10) is a community where young people become Makers. They discover new Skills, make projects in the real world, and share their work online to inspire and learn from each other. The big idea is that anyone can become anything just by trying – we all learn by doing. Our company and our community strive to make it easier for Makers to build confidence in their own creativity.

At the table, you can put yourself in the shoes of a young maker – explore, build, capture, and share your first challenge on your online portfolio. If you’re really dedicated, you can earn a Skill patch by doing 3 challenges in one creative discipline. We’ll have several iOS devices on hand running the DIY app, and enough cardboard, inner tubes, and duct tape to build something dangerous.

(11) Tinkering Lab
Chicago Children’s Museum
We’re motoring! Stop by and tinker with real motors: take them apart, connect them in new ways, and make your own mechanical designs. There’s no wrong way to tinker!

Explore a sample of the real tools and materials available to visitors in Tinkering Lab, Chicago Children’s Museum’s newest permanent exhibit. Get your hands on actual objects made by young tinkerers in Tinkering Lab, and talk to staff who developed and currently manage the space. It’s real tools, real science, and really for kids! .

(12) Learning on the Next Level: Gamekit & Playforce
Institute of Play
Whether we’re making games or playing them, we learn a lot from them. But what are we learning, exactly? How can we encourage youth to begin to think critically about what games are actually teaching us? Institute of Play’s station will demonstrate modes through which young people can start articulating lessons learned from games made and played. We’d like to share two of our latest experiences at Make-to-Learn: Gamekit and Playforce.

Gamekit challenges teens to take on the role of game designer and flex their creative muscles through an iterative design process. The Gamekit platform connects teens to professional game designers through moderated design challenges, and provides a place to give and receive peer feedback in an online environment. Make-to-Learn visitors will have the chance to take on a Gamekit challenge and create their own games, while exploring Gamekit’s community platform and associated resources available for educators.

Playforce is a community built for and by players, parents and educators to discover and share learning experiences in games. Its training component gives players the critical tools to articulate learning in a way that adults can understand, a way that connects to traditional academic standards and 21st century skills. Ultimately, the site will create a searchable database of games with learning potential by content area, standards, or skill set. Make-to-Learn visitors will explore the Playforce community and take a deep dive into the training.

Institute of Play is a not-for-profit design studio that pioneers new models of learning and engagement.

(13) Dream It, Design It, Fab It!
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Participants will try their hands at digital fabrication through some of the software and equipment from the Fab Lab at the Museum of Science and Industry. Activities include designing custom vinyl stickers, 3D scanning, 3D printing and mold making. Participants will also learn how structured learning experiences of 20 minutes, one hour, or several weeks all provide powerful opportunities for developing design, engineering, and 21st century skills. The Wanger Family Fab Lab is a small-scale workshop where youth can dream up, design and make almost anything, from practical to whimsical, while gaining confidence and ability in modern design and engineering processes.

(14) Toy Hacking with Maker Kids
Maker Kids
Maker Kids is a non-profit organization enabling kids to build their ideas with real tools and materials. At our makerspace in Toronto, Canada, we teach after school programs, weekend workshops and summer camps in electronics, woodworking, programming, sewing, 3D printing and lots more.

At our Toy Hacking makerstation, take apart old toys and reassemble them into new creations! Use screwdrivers, hacksaws, drills and scissors to take them apart, and use hot glue, duct tape, screws and needle and thread to put them together again. Humpty Dumpty never had it so good!

We’ll have a collection of toys, craft foam, fabric, and assorted body parts and craft materials to augment your designs. Bring your own toys to upcycle, too. Our 3D printer will also be churning out various eyes and teeth for your creation to express itself.

If you are interested in electronics, soldering irons and LEDs will be on hand for further customization. Voice-box transplants are hilarious! Or give that stuffed rabbit a whole new personality with glowing red eyes.

This activity is inexpensive, and is easily done with any group of kids. It incorporates upcycling, DIY and creativity. Come try it out, and get some tips on how to do it with your own group!

(15) gadgITERATION
Design+Technology Program, Parsons The New School for Design
Turn Trash to Treasure! Make noisy gadgets! Experiment with interaction design! GadgITERATION is a platform designed for the rapid prototyping of tangible interfaces. Its goal is to engage youth and other novices in electronic tinkering. The first open source device, in what will become a suite, is The NoiseMaker. When assembled, the low-cost kit enables experimentation with basic concepts of interaction design. Created as a stepping stone to microprocessing controllers such as Arduino, Lily Pad and Raspberry Pi, the NoiseMaker presents multiple points of entry and requires no previous experience with engineering or computer programming. The Parsons team is currently using the device and the Scrapyard Challenge activity in various contexts including English Language Arts, in addition to STEAM; informal and formal settings; and with multi-generational groups. Other early foci are a consideration of the need for greater technological literacy due to the proliferation of electronics in all aspects of life, as well as the development of assessment methods for the platform.

The project is supported by AMT at Parsons The New School for Design, MOUSE and Hive NYC.

(16) DIY Paper Audio Speakers
Mt. Elliott Makerspace
Ever wonder how audio speakers work?  Find out my making your own out of magnets, wire, glue, tape, and sticky notes!  This experience will also help you understand the principles of electromagnetism and electromagnetic induction…principles that are responsible for the function of machines and technologies that we use every day!

(17) Hack-a-Shirt
Dreamyard and Hive Fashion
Do you have a favorite shirt you just don’t wear anymore but can’t let go of it? Ever wanted to remix it and make it cooler? Now you can! Hive Fashion and DreamYard will lead this hands-on workshop to teach you simple ways to turn those old shirts into a cool, new look.

(18) SparkFun Education
SparkFun Electronics & University of Colorado
SparkFun’s Department of Education offers classes, workshops, online curricula, and tutorials designed to help educate teachers and students of all ages about the wonderful world of embedded electronics. Our resources are designed to make the world of electronics more accessible to the average person, and we’ve got experience teaching kids of all ages all across the country. Come check out our latest educational products, a few awesome projects built with SparkFun parts, get ideas on how to incorporate hands-on electronics education in your classroom, and maybe even pick up some free stuff!

(19) Caine’s Arcade Cardboard Challenge
Imagination Foundation
Gearing up for this fall’s 2nd Annual Global Cardboard Challenge, the Imagination Foundation invites participants to design/build something awesome out of cardboard, recycled materials and imagination. Drop in and build a game, a robot, a pegasus, a moving toy – anything you can imagine. Brainstorm your idea with others, design it, build it and share it. The Imagination Foundation team (including director Nirvan Mullick) will be on hand to get you started, and for inspiration, there will be mini-cardboard theater screening Caine’s Arcade and videos from last year’s Global Cardboard Challenge.

The Imagination Foundation was launched from the overwhelming global response to “Caine’s Arcade,” a short film about 9-year-old who built an elaborate cardboard arcade in his father’s East LA auto parts shop. The mission of the Imagination Foundation is to find, foster and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in children around the world to raise a new generation of innovators and problem solvers who have the tools they need to build the world they imagine. Join the movement. Come build and play!

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