Jonathan Gerlach | National Consultant for STEM Education Initiatives
When I was in third grade, I vividly remember playing with my “Operation” game for hours. One afternoon it stopped working. No buzzing, no red light. Nothing. Instead of just tossing it away, I engaged in the exciting ritual of taking the toy apart. I had to see how it worked. This ignited a passion for dissecting and reconnecting all of my toys. Whether I was mixing the body parts of my GI Joe figurines or investigating the innards of my RC car, I was enthralled by how the world around me worked. As I tinkered away, adult voices continued to tell me “you’re going to break it Jonathan”, but the magic of problem solving had consumed me. With every objection, I’d quickly yell back, “just watch… I’m fixing it!”
It is human nature to want to understand the world around us, but as things have become more sophisticated and technology-driven, many of us find ourselves filled with the “fear of breaking things”. We tell ourselves, “what if I damage this beyond repair?” But what if we didn’t have to worry about breaking things? Today’s Maker Movement is providing safe spaces for exploration, discovery, tinkering, and the breaking and fixing of things. In these makerspaces, adults and children alike are given “permission” to explore this human instinct and learn by doing. In the process, they are developing invaluable skills like problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, and ingenuity… the key tenets of STEM.
All around the world, students, teachers, and communities are catching the excitement that comes with this type of learning and discovery. The Maker movement is bringing something critical to schools who are interested in beginning the journey down the road to STEM cultural change; permission. Permission to think differently, to color outside the lines, to try new ways of introducing content, and to break and fix things.
Explore how you can bring STEM to life in your classrooms with variety of powerful and engaging resources designed to fuel a cultural shift around STEM teaching and learning!