My first experience at a “themed” EdCamp was nothing short of wonderful!  The team that put EdCampMaker together really outdid themselves.  After a somewhat slow start due to a bad wreck on the interstate and multiple events on Elon’s beautiful campus, the organizers decided to change the rules a bit.  Rather than having multiple break-out sessions, we opted to stay together as one big group sharing ideas on various topics throughout the day.

Check out the session board and collaborative notes here.

We began with an activity involving 30 spaghetti noodles, one string of yarn, a long piece of scotch tape, and a marshmallow.  Directions: create the tallest tower of spaghetti noodles with the marshmallow at the top; height of tower will be the distance measured from bottom of marshmallow to top of table.  My group, which included the fabulous Chris Tuttell (@tuttelltweets) had a spectacular idea to create tripods of spaghetti noodles using tape to bind them together.  We failed to place the marshmallow on top until the final seconds, only to find our tower was not strong enough to hold the marshmallow up.  After a brief discussion amongst the EdCamp group, we decided that sometimes simple is best.

Then, we began to delve into discussions around makerspaces, what works and what doesn’t.  We talked about how to better our own makerspaces and how to empower our students to unleash their creativity.  One of the Board Members of Elon University posed an excellent question about placing tutorial videos on YouTube of various makerspaces.  I thought this was a brilliant idea; it seemed so obvious, but I believe we all felt that mouth wide open – Ican’tbelieveIdidn’tthinkofthat – moment.

The remaining sessions were Community Spaces, Coding, Minecraft, Robotics, 3D Printing, and Soft-Making (crocheting, etc).  I was the most excited to gain more knowledge about 3D Printing.  Great resources are available for 3D Printing, and many can be found on the collaborative notes for that session.  Perhaps one of my favorite parts of the day was actually the name badges.  The coordinators of EdCampMaker spent the time creating each participant a name badge made from a 3D Printer.  Then we had glitter pens to decorate and make it our own!  I seriously felt like a little girl again playing with the glitter glue.  Other EdCamps are really going to have a hard time impressing me with the name badges.

Finally, the end of our day was spectacular.  We were able to “plearn” (Play + Learn…one of my new favorite words thanks to Twitter) in various makerspaces in the conference room.  We got to play with a MakeyMakey, a 3Doodler, an Osmo, Minecraft, LittleBits, 3D Printers, and a Sphero Ball, just to name a few!  I made some awesome glasses with the 3Doodler and fell in love with the Osmo.

Let me just say that I have never won a door prize at an EdCamp before… this was my 5th EdCamp experience, and I always walked out without so much as a t-shirt or bag swag… This EdCamp ended that streak.  In true Oprah fashion, “You get a MakeyMakey, and You get a MakeyMakey, and You, and You!”  Yep – that happened!  Each person at EdCampMaker got a MakeyMakey to take home!!!  As if it couldn’t get any better, I also won (genuinely won per ticket drawing) the 3Doodler Pen with filament!!!  I get to make even more of those cool glasses at home!  My students are going to be so thrilled to get to “plearn” with these new gadgets in our own makerspace at school!  Somehow I also ended up walking away with a Tinkercad shirt, too!  Remember that I mentioned falling in love with Osmo while there… I ended up buying one as soon as I got home.  It came in last weekend and my 5 year old daughter and I have been playing with it since!  She begs me to play the Osmo.

My biggest take-away from this EdCamp, besides the awesome prizes and swag, was that Makerspace isn’t just the future anymore; it’s what’s happening now in education.  All the ‘cool kids’ are doing it. I believe MakerEd takes engineering, problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking to levels that we cannot fathom on a standardized test.

Beware! Shameless Plea for Donations Ahead: I have written two grants to get my school more materials for MakerEd.  I am still hoping one, or both, will be funded. In my high-poverty rural school (96% free and reduced lunch), I can’t and won’t ask the parents to supply my makerspace.  If you’d like to help my students reach their fullest potential, please consider donating to my DonorsChoose project, which only has 35 days remaining (ends on June 15, 2015).

One thought on “#EdCampMaker

  1. Pingback: Why I Love Edcamp and So Will You! |

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