Taming the Maker Beast

Getting Mobile and Modular - SXSWedu 2016

the problem

How do we teach the 21st century student? That is the primary question in the modern world of education. So many buzz words get thrown around: Project Based Learning, Maker Education, Resilience, Grit, Blended Learning, STEAM, it can be overwhelming and intimidating for a teacher to take on while still ensuring that they are meeting curricular requirements and teaching skills like creativity and collaboration. Whether their worries are about curriculum, safety or having enough tools and materials, many teachers are trepidatious about giving maker ed a go. Those who have bravely taken the plunge may be looking for ways to be more efficient and purposeful in their instruction. We've been there and we want to help.


See our ideas on how to manage a standards-based skill builder maker project by participating in an activity that teaches fabrication skills while learning about biology and astronomy.

These skill builder maker activities are intended to give participants the opportunity to use tools to create. Participants are encouraged to view the flipped lessons and use the provided tools and materials to create a model. Don’t hesitate to improve upon the model and add your own twist.

Driving Question: How can we model the natural biological or physical world in an interactive display for the annual Maker Faire or local children’s museum?

Bioluminescence: Click Here for Handout

Spiral Galaxy Formation: Click Here for Handout

Venus Flytrap: Click Here for Handout


The Design Process

Asking students to empathize with end users in order to solve problems.

Making failure approachable through the revision process.

Resources: Designer Thinking for Educators, Tim Brown, Stanford dSchool

the tools

how do I get started?

Links to resources we love

How Resilience Works by Diane Coutu, May 2002 Harvard Business Review

Creativity and the Everyday Brain, Rex Jung, On Being podcast episode

The Innovator’s Mindset, Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity by George Couros

Ana Josephson

Ana had an nontraditional start in Maker Education when she started restoring vintage travel trailers with her Engineering students. She is the first, and quite possibly the only, maker teacher who, along with 22 high school sophomores, created a teacher's lounge from a 1977 Airstream trailer. Ana is driven by developing Maker Education curriculum. Sewing repurposed hats, carving canjos, bookbinding with soft circuits, building greenhouses, or laser cutting signs, these are just a few of the maker projects Ana has designed and managed in a traditional school settings. She has taught secondary science and engineering for thirteen years, and has a masters in STEM education from the University of Texas at Austin. She also gives professional development workshops about Maker Education to teachers in Central Texas. Currently, Ana is working on her woodworking certification, and designing a makerspace in her backyard — right next to an Airstream trailer.

Kat Sauter

Kat Sauter has eight years of experience in public, Title I schools. She has two years experience transforming schools working with teachers in an administrative position, in addition to serving as a full time teacher in the middle school STEM and science classroom. She is currently pursuing a graduate degree from the University of Texas in Learning Technology. In 2014, she entered the realm of STEAM and making establishing her schools brand-new Makerspace at the Ann Richards School. She is passionate about sharing best practices and strategies with other education professionals, and about the power technology has to transform education. You can see her modularized 8th grade STEM curriculum here, and read about what her students have done at www.arsdesignlab.com.

J.E. Johnson

Buildings have architects, highways have engineers, and makerspaces have J. E. Johnson. He has spent nearly two decades as a staff and faculty member at The University of Texas at Austin training hundreds students in carpentry, welding, and scenery construction and had the opportunity to make some indescribably cool and crazy things. In 2013 he began teaching younger students to make crazy things for the DeBusk Enrichment Center for Academically Talented Scholars and in 2015 he developed and ran a new summer camp program for the Austin Tinkering School.
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