“Making” a Better Classroom

Kaye

Maker: Kaye Ebelt, Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator at the National Science Foundation

Proudest Maker Moment: “Getting back into computer coding and designing things from scratch”

A year ago, Kaye Ebelt had never heard of the maker movement.

As an elementary school teacher in Missoula, Montana, Ebelt had taught everything from language arts, to math, science, and even robotics, but it wasn’t until arriving in Washington D.C. in the fall that she began to consider the potential ways making could enhance her classroom curriculum.

“I thought making was just 3D printing,” says Ebelt. “It encompasses so much more than I imagined.”

With engineering concepts set to debut in the K-12 curriculum in the 2016-17 school year, teachers across the country are scrambling to assemble resources and lesson plans that incorporate more design and materials science. According to Ebelt, making could be a great way to introduce these concepts.

“Engineering education involves decision making, design sketching, construction and testing of physical products,” says Ebelt. “All of these concepts can be explored in the maker space.”

Ebelt and her colleagues will debut a scale model of a futuristic city, complete with high-tech buildings, space-age vehicles, and smart energy systems at the DC Mini Maker Faire on June 8, 2014. The team designed and created each component using CAD software and 3D printers.

Having mastered many of the tools of the maker trade over the last year, Ebelt hopes more teachers will embrace the maker movement as a way to teach engineering concepts and engage students who might not have a knack for traditional math and science topics.

“The best engineering students aren’t always the best math and science students,” says Ebelt. “Being able to solve problems with your hands is a skill that’s often overlooked.”

 

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