My Mom and the Maker Movement

The Maker Movement brings together technology fans and traditional artisans in a shared do-it-yourself, crafting culture that celebrates innovation. Schools across the country are investing in Maker Spaces, where students can invent or build with a diverse range of recycled products, traditional tools, and technology.

It’s new. It’s hip. It’s the best thing going on in education.

And my mom did it in her kindergarten class more than thirty years ago. She called it the Invention Center.

In the 1970s and 80s, there were always paper grocery bags in our kitchen at some stage of being filled with empty paper towel rolls, plastic tops, cans, bubble wrap, milk cartons, and more. We’d help her deliver them to her Invention Center and check out all the kindergarten “inventions” being built there. Occasionally, she’d send a letter home to her class asking for Invention Center donations, and the coffers would fill to overflowing, because 20 families across the DC metro area spent their kindergarten year collecting for it too.

The best though was watching those little kids walk down the carpool line barely able to carry structures bigger than they were to moms whose mouths were open in surprise. “Wow! That’s amazing!”

And the kindergarten “makers” beamed with pride as mom tried to fit it in the back of the car and they explained all the intricacies of what they’d created, how many times it had fallen apart, how they fixed it, and where they wanted to put it in their house.

I don’t know if my mom has heard of the Maker Movement, but I like to think of her as one of its pioneers.

 

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Crafting at 8

Planning ahead so that a sixth grader finishes his Social Studies Egyptian project without tears does not always safeguard a family from late night crafting.

A paper mache sarcophagus due three days after an out-of-town weekend requires a phased approach. If the week prior to that weekend includes two basketball games and lots of math homework, forethought and timing are critical.

So at 8pm on a Wednesday, a week before the due date, I said, “We’d better figure out this paper mache thing.”

I forgot how fun paper mache is. It has been more than 30 years.

At 9pm, my son’s clothes were splattered with cream-colored goo. His arms were caked with dried paste. His hands dipped in and out of the bowl.

“This is awesome!” he said as the clock ticked past bedtime.