STEAM by Design:

A #MakerEd Approach to Learning

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Workshop Objectives

  • Put the "Maker Movement" in both historical & educational context
  • Differentiate this type of approach from "EdTech"
  • Provide relevant experiences & resources that can be brought back to school

A Tiny History Lesson:

Origins of the "Maker Movement"

Start with a Timeless Pedagogy: Constructivism - > Constructionism

Add Some Counter Culture Tendencies

Combine with Maker Media, Inc.

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And a Movement is Born (or at leasted marketed)

(This is a hot topic!)

Leah Buechley's Presentation (some colorful metaphors @ 23:00)

Eyeo 2014 - Leah Buechley
Squishy Circuits -- Sylvia's Mini Maker Show


  • STEAM is my stance
  • Not JAFI (Just Another Freaking Initiative)
  • Not just about job creation
  • Beware the Educational Industrial Complex ($$$)


The Maker Movement is Not for Sale

Some Questions I Ask Myself ...

Does it encourage -


  • student agency (shape/influence environment)
  • creativity, voice, play, "hard fun"
  • the iterative design process
  • multiple entry points and paths to follow
  • equity amongst different thinking/learning styles, gender, etc.
  • hackability, multiple uses across disciplines
  • process versus a perfect product

This is all great but ...

I'm already overwhelmed!

Where would I even begin?

Try Starting with...

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These maker-centric "thinking routines" help answer questions (usually from administrators...) like, "This looks fun, but are they learning anything?"


Why? Because it helps make student thinking visible throughout the process.

Activity 1: Parts, Purposes, & Complexities (Looking Closely)

This routine helps -


  • students slow down and make careful, detailed observations by encouraging them to look beyond the obvious features of an object or system.

  • stimulate curiosity, raises questions, and surfaces areas for further inquiry.



  • identify the layers and dimensions of both artifacts and systems
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Activity 2: Imagine If ... (Finding Opportunity)

This routine -



  • first encourages divergent thinking, as students think of new possibilities for an object or system

  • then encourages convergent thinking, as students decide upon effective approach to build, tinker, re/design, or hack an object or a system.

  • Ultimately, this thinking routine is about finding opportunity and pursuing new ideas