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.



The Greatest Invention Ever

My son had a homework assignment to decide what he believes is the most important invention in history. Part of his assignment was to ask other people what they believe it was. I said the alphabet and the light bulb. His younger brother said houses and iPads.

He chose “the airplane invented by the Wright Brothers”, and this is what he wrote:

“I think the airplane is important because you can get where you want to go a lot faster. You can go on trips and go on fun adventures. I encountered someone who had drugs on the plane and got arrested. Going on airplanes is fun and you might get to go with your loved ones. I think fun and love are the most important things. I thank the Wright Brothers for inventing the airplane.”

It may not win the Nobel Prize for Literature (or even a good grade), but I can still have my favorite parts: his use of the word “encountered”, the fact that an arrest we witnessed more than a year ago found its way into the story to make it uniquely his, and that he chose an invention because it helps people do fun things with those they love… just enjoying the sweet way his brain works.