Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom

by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager

Website for the book Invent To Learn

Notes & Quotes

  • "today’s new low-cost, flexible, creative, and powerful materials should be viewed as building blocks for today’s children." Comment
  • "The central thesis is that children should engage in tinkering and making because they are powerful ways to learn."
Chapter 1 - An Insanely Brief and Incomplete History of Making
  • Piaget - “… use of active methods which give broad scope to the spontaneous research of the child or adolescent and requires that every new truth to be learned, be rediscovered, or at least reconstructed by the student and not simply imported to him.” (Piaget, 1976) ... Knowledge does not result from receipt of information transmitted by someone else without the learner undergoing an internal process of sense making. Comment
  • "Hackers believe that essential lessons can be learned about the systems – about the world – from taking things apart, seeing how they work, and using this knowledge to create new and even more interesting things." (Levy, 2010)
  • "Anything is easy if you can assimilate it to your collection of models. If you can’t, anything can be painfully difficult. What an individual can learn, and how he learns it, depends on what models he has available." (Papert, 1980)
  • "The phrase, “technology and education” usually means inventing new gadgets to teach the same old stuff in a thinly disguised version of the same old way. Moreover, if the gadgets are computers, the same old teaching becomes incredibly more expensive and biased towards its dumbest parts, namely the kind of rote learning in which measurable results can be obtained by treating the children like pigeons in a Skinner box." (Papert, 1972a)
  • "The primary role of the teacher in a Reggio-inspired setting is as a researcher charged with understanding the thinking of each child and preparing the environment for that child’s natural intellectual growth."
  • "The word, ‘project’ evokes the idea of a dynamic process, an itinerary. It is sensitive to the rhythms of communication and incorporates the significance and time of children’s investigation and research. The duration of a project can be short, medium or long, continuous or discontinuous, with pauses, suspensions and restarts.
    The term, ‘curriculum’ (along with the corresponding terms ‘curriculum planning’ or ‘lesson planning’) is unsuitable for representing the complex and multiple strategies that are necessary for sustaining children’s knowledge-building processes. (Rinaldi, 2006)
  • "Students will learn, they will invent, they will teach, they will collaborate, and they will share knowledge when it best suits their needs, interests, and style." Comment
  • "Reading and “remixing” another person’s computer program is a sophisticated form of literacy students need today."
  • "The primal human need to be creative is bursting out in thousands of ways across the culture. At the same time, too many schools are stifling individuality and personal expression."
  • "The maker ethos values learning through direct experience and the intellectual and social benefits that accrue from creating something shareable."
  • "Kids have always made things – tree houses, skateboards, soapbox cars, doll houses, forts, and igloos. They have learned socially through collaborative play and construction by putting on shows, experimenting with roles, and performing magic tricks. The major difference today is computation. As Brian Silverman says, “A little bit of programming goes a long way. It is like a jet assist” in solving problems or building exciting things." (Silverman & Kay, 2013) Comment
  • "Beyond fluency, personal fabrication, programming, and physical computing shift the emphasis from passive consumption to active creation and invention."
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Chapter 2 - Learning
  • "Constructivism is a well-established theory of learning indicating that people actively construct new knowledge by combining their experiences with what they already know. Constructivism suggests that knowledge is not delivered to the learner, but constructed inside the learner’s head. New knowledge results from the process of making sense of new situations by reconciling new experiences or information with what the learner already knows or has experienced."
  • "From constructivist theories of psychology we take a view of learning as a reconstruction rather than as a transmission of knowledge. Then we extend the idea of manipulative materials to the idea that learning is most effective when part of an activity the learner experiences as constructing a meaningful product." (Papert, 1986)
  • "We seek to liberate learners from their dependency on being taught." Comment
  • "The primary role of the teacher in a Reggio-inspired setting is as a researcher charged with understanding the thinking of each child and preparing the environment for that child’s natural intellectual growth."
  • "'virtuous circle' of DIY enthusiasts who enjoy documenting their projects online and inspiring others" Comment
  • "To Papert, the strength of the computer lies in none of these categories. It is a material to be “messed about with.” The act of messing about, which we might call tinkering, is where the learning happens. The computer provides a flexible material that the child can weave into their own ideas and master for their own purposes."
  • "In most school activities, structure is valued over serendipity."
  • "The reason for all this structure is not that it benefits the learner. In reality, it benefits the teacher-as-manager and the administrators in the system. The structure makes it easier for one teacher to teach a one-size-fits-all curriculum to large numbers of same age students. None of the constraints of school are for the benefit of learning – they create a more manageable, homogeneous, efficient platform for teaching a predetermined bit of content." Comment
  • "School, especially in science and math classes, typically only honors one type of learning and problem-solving approach, the traditional analytical step-by-step model. Other more non-linear, more collaborative, or more artistic problem-solving styles are often dismissed as “messy” or “intuitive” with the implication that they are not reliable."
  • "Tinkering, when presented as a way to approach problems in an iterative, contemplative fashion, can take its rightful place in schools next to analytical approaches to problem solving."
  • "Tinkering is what happens when you try something you don’t quite know how to do, guided by whim, imagination, and curiosity. When you tinker, there are no instructions – but there are also no failures, no right or wrong ways of doing things. It’s about figuring out how things work and reworking them. Contraptions, machines, wildly mismatched objects working in harmony – this is the stuff of tinkering. Tinkering is, at its most basic, a process that marries play and inquiry." (Banzi, 2008)
Chapter 3 - Thinking About Thinking
  • "How do we know what a child is thinking? We don’t. That’s the fun part. The first step is to mindfully watch and listen to children as they work. ... Teachers should be concerned with making thinking visible, or making private thinking public. Making is a way of documenting the thinking of a learner in a shareable artifact. Stages of a project “under construction” offer important evidence of productive thinking or scaffolding opportunities."
  • "... Tinkering gives deep clues to a patient observer about thinking.
    There are many who believe that their own success in learning can be transferred to others by sharing the thinking patterns and steps they successfully use to solve problems. As the theory goes, if others simply memorize these successful thinking patterns, then they too will be successful.
    However, learning as a transfer of thinking patterns does not work. When people learn, they construct knowledge based on what they already know and have experienced. This is context specific and different for each person."
  • "Technology is increasingly being relegated to using computers for Internet research and test taking." Comment
  • "Alan Kay laments that much of what schools teach isn’t science at all, it’s science appreciation." (Kay, 2007)
  • "(Latour, 1987) What he discovered was that tinkering is closer to the way real scientists, mathematicians, and engineers solve problems. Tinkering is not just an uninformed or immature way that science happens. Sure, scientists make plans. They also follow hunches, iterate, make mistakes, re-think, start over, argue, sleep on it, collaborate, and have a cup of tea. Tinkering encourages making connections, whereas school tends to favor “clean” disconnected problems with clear, unambiguous step-by-step solutions."
  • "The best way to ensure the development of design thinking is for students to be engaged in authentic design activities. The surest path to computational thinking is a student engaged in computer programming."
  • "Yet in school, there is often a rigid “design process” with stages that imply a linear progression from start to finish. Whether teaching writing, video production, or brainstorming a useful invention, it seems most efficient to provide students with step-by-step assistance, tools, and tricks to organize their thoughts and get to a finished product as quickly as possible.
    This well-intentioned support may in fact have the effect of stifling creativity and forcing students to create products that simply mirror the checklist they have been given."
  • "When the risk of making a mistake is costly, it makes sense to use the waterfall method. However, if the risks of making a mistake are not expensive or dangerous, then it makes sense to explore different design methodologies."
  • "These modern, tinkering-friendly design models are known by various names including “rapid prototyping,” “spiral design,” “iterative design,” and “agile development.”
  • "Tinkering-Friendly Design Models - All design starts with an idea. But spiraling, iterative design does not require that the entire product be completely planned at the beginning. The goal is to build something as quickly as possible in order to check your assumptions and move forward. The planning, doing, checking, adjusting, re-planning, fixing, improving, sharing, etc. move in a spiral fashion through these phases again and again."
  • "Rapid prototyping takes advantage of the fact that changing a digital product like an app is relatively inexpensive and risk free."
  • Spiral Model
  • Iterative Development Model
  • "The distinctions between these various professional design and development models are not that important for the purposes of this book. What is important to understand is that the iterative, cyclical nature of these modern, real-world models looks nothing like the linear, step-by-step design models or scientific method found in most textbooks."
  • "Design Models For Learning - In the classroom, iteration through multiple design cycles is useful and relevant. Not only is it more “real world” than linear methods, it matches the inclination of children to do something quickly rather than spend a lot of time planning."
  • "These cyclical phases allow the teacher to see progress and make sure that students are moving forward towards a goal, not procrastinating until the last minute."
  • Resnick's Cycle Diagram
  • "In MIT workshops, children were deliberately shown this cycle while engaged in the process of design. It was considered an indicator of success when after each workshop, children could articulate the ideas of this approach." Comment
  • "However, we wouldn’t actually give those tips to the next class; the powerful part of that lesson is not the tips, it’s the reflection." Comment
  • "What we fear with imposed design cycle diagrams and checklists is that children will see any set of steps as prescriptive, and as much as we tell them that it doesn’t have to be done exactly like this, they will worry that they aren’t “doing it right.”
  • "Yet, an obsession with lists and their inherent linearity may detour the learning process by replacing making with compliance."
  • "We recognize that the deepest learning experiences may occur while en route to producing a product. Students engaged in direct experience with materials, unforeseen obstacles, and serendipitous discoveries may result in understanding never anticipated by the teacher."
  • "Teachers need to protect actual making from time spent on teaching the particulars of a model of making."
  • "TMI has its original meaning, “Too much information,” but several others as well: Too much instruction Too many interruptions Too much intervention"
  • "TMI has only three – Think, Make, Improve. Reducing the process to three steps minimizes talking and maximizes doing."
    • "Think - The “think” stage incorporates many of the problem-setting, brainstorming, and planning processes found in other approaches. Thinking may include: Brainstorming, Talking it out, Predicting, Gathering materials, Identifying expertise, Deciding who to work with (or to work alone), Setting goals, Sketching, Outlining, Flowcharting, Researching." Comment
    • "Make - This is the part of the process where the most action occurs. During the making process, students may: Play, Build, Tinker, Create, Program, Experiment, Construct, Deconstruct, Test strategies/materials, Observe others, Borrow code, Share code, Document their process, Look for vulnerabilities in their invention, Ask questions, Repair their creation." Comment
    • "Improve - Fix or Make Better. When you get stuck, you may need to improve your thinking about the problem or find another strategy for getting unstuck. This process might include: Conduct research, Talk it out, Discuss with peers, Look at the problem from a different perspective, Use different materials, Change one variable at a time, Think about ways in which you solved similar problems in the past, Play with it, Find a similar project you might analyze or deconstruct, Ask an expert, Be cool, Get some fresh air, Sleep on it." Comment
  • "I’m done” are two words you should never hear in the maker classroom! When a student (or team of students) thinks they are finished, they should seek opportunities to improve or refine their work. Students who find themselves on a successful project development plateau might ask questions, such as: How can I make my/ our ___ faster, slower, better, more accurate, prettier, greener, cooler, stronger, smarter, more flexible, taller, shorter, more efficient, less expensive, more reliable, lighter, more elegant, easier to use?" Comment
  • "Under the rarest of circumstances, a student who has solved a problem to their satisfaction or “completed” a project should be motivated to start another or share their expertise with peers." Comment
  • "The arts and sciences are a natural marriage when students have sufficient time for project development, reflection, and revision."
  • "Experiential learning is not just another school reform destined to failure, because three reversals have taken place since the time of Dewey. The first reversal is that children can be part of the change."
  • "The second reversal Papert identifies is that the computer offers “learner technology” instead of “teacher technology.” Many previous attempts at integrating technology into classrooms simply reinforced the role of teacher (videos of lectures) or replacing the teacher (drill and practice, computerized testing, etc.). However, affordable computers, sensors, and simple programming tools have become materials for the learner. This transition, if we choose to take it, “… offers a fundamental reversal in relationships between participants in learning.”
    The third reversal is that powerful ideas previously only available in college courses can be made understandable for young children."
  • "The deepest problem for us is not technology, nor teaching, nor school bureaucracies – it’s the limits of our own thinking." Comment
Chapter 4 - What Makes A Good Project?
  • "We do not believe it is critical to superficially separate problem solving, inquiry, and creating artifacts into different types of learning.
  • When we talk about a “project,” what we mean is work that is substantial, shareable, and personally meaningful."
  • "In Papert’s theory of constructionism, the best way to construct knowledge or understanding is through the construction of something shareable, outside of a student’s head. Those artifacts are commonly thought of as projects, even though the project development process is where the learning occurs. Such artifacts are evidence of learning."
  • The Eight Elements of a Good Project (or here
  • "What’s a Good Prompt? The best prompts emerge from a learner’s curiosity, experience, discovery, wonder, challenge, or dilemma. When a student asks a question, that question deserves serious consideration. However, far too often teachers rob students of powerful learning opportunities by setting the prompt or being too prescriptive." Brevity, Ambiguity, Immunity to assessment.
  • "It takes four things to be able to teach based on the interests and aspirations of young learners: A strong knowledge of your curriculum and standards, Flexibility, Organization, Resourcefulness...
    It takes a great deal of flexibility and organization to manage several different projects to completion and to assure that your class of students is able to learn from one another and, in the end, have completed their requirements for their given grade...
    It is unacceptable and unnecessary to deny children the opportunity to work on something they are passionate about because the teacher is not an expert in that particular field." Maryann Molishus - Comment
  • "Four Approaches to Using Materials When you wish to introduce a new technology, construction material, tool, or art supply, you may do so in one of four ways...
    Specific concept. Use the materials to teach a specific concept, such as gears, friction, or multiplication of fractions.
    Thematic project. Visit a local factory, amusement park, airport, construction site, etc. and construct a model of it. Design a set for our medieval carnival.
    Curricular theme. Identify a problem in Sub-Saharan Africa and build a machine to solve that problem.
    Freestyle. The materials just become part of your toolbox and may be used when you see fit. This choice of media or medium requires students to develop technological fluency." Comment
  • "All too often, we are enchanted by the technical merit of a project and forget the importance of relevance, meaning, and sufficient evidence of understanding." Comment
  • "A powerful project inspires student memories because of the learning that takes place during its creation, not because a student successfully navigates the technical vagaries of the software or hardware used during its creation." Comment
  • "As teachers, we often promote the idea that process is more important than the end product, yet it is often the product itself that provides context and motivates students to learn."
  • "Emphasizing the process – the “doing” part of project work – should not cause us to lower our expectations for the final product."
  • "Projects are what students remember long after the bell rings. Great teachers know that their highest calling is to make memories."
Chapter 5 - Teaching
  • "I think it’s an exaggeration, but there’s a lot of truth in saying that when you go to school, the trauma is that you must stop learning and you must now accept being taught." Seymour Papert - Comment
  • Less Us, More Them - Seems related to our session on "problem-solving," Less (Teaching) Is More (Learning)
    • "Anytime an adult feels it necessary to intervene in an educational transaction, they should take a deep breath and ask, “Is there some way I can do less and grant more authority, responsibility, or agency to the learner?”
    • "The role of the teacher is to create and facilitate these powerful, productive contexts for learning."
    • "Piaget suggests that it is not the role of the teacher to correct a child from the outside, but to create conditions in which the student corrects himself."
    • "When students own the learning process, they also own the knowledge they construct. Self-reliance results when we relinquish control and power to our students."
  • Failure
    • "The current failure fetish is more sloganeering than progress. It confuses iteration with failure, when in fact any iterative design cycle is about continuous improvement, keeping what works, and dealing with what doesn’t. This is learning, not failure.
      It is certainly important to eliminate the fear of failure as a driving factor in the classroom, but it is crucial that teachers avoid the trap of thinking they have to artificially produce failure."
    • "When the student is given agency over the task, they can decide for themselves if something is a mistake, a detour, or maybe a new path."
    • "Wise teachers know when to dispense the smallest dose of information possible to ensure forward progress." Comment
  • "most of American education is instructionism, or direct instruction"
  • Eight Big Ideas Behind the Constructionist Learning Lab: learning by doing, technology as building material, hard fun, learning to learn, taking time - the proper time for the job, you can't get it right without getting it wrong, do unto ourselves what we do unto our students, digital world
  • "It’s more about learning processes – how to tinker or experiment with digital technologies; how to troubleshoot a problem; how to repurpose an existing computer program for your means." Jaymes Dec
  • Playing The Whole Game - Making Learning Whole
  • Teacher roles in a constructionist classroom may include:
    • Ethnographer – Find out what children already know
    • Documentarian – Collect evidence of learning that makes the invisible thinking of children visible
    • Studio manager – Make appropriate tools, materials, and resources available so children can make their ideas come to life
    • Wise leader – Guide children’s inquiry towards big ideas without coercion.
  • Iteration
    • "When you ask students to produce something ... [it] may not be the most perfectly planned out, but the point is to create something that can be shared and talked about.
      Then do it again."
    • "Keep an eye out for students who are off task, but allow those who are on task to continue to work independently." Comment
  • "Skip the preload - Less is more when it comes to instruction. If you need to teach something new, make the demonstration as quick as possible. Try limiting an instruction to a minute or two before asking students to use that knowledge."
  • "The lessons of tinkering and making occur in the construction, not the planning." Comment
  • "forcing formulaic planning may be counterproductive and unpleasant." Comment
  • "The longer you delay students from getting to the “making” part of the design cycle, the more students will disengage and the longer it will take to learn the lessons." Comment
  • "If your curriculum requires lab notebooks, outlining, visual organizers, journaling, and similar techniques, try to maintain perspective on their relative importance. These techniques are intended to help some styles of learners at certain times solve particular problems. They should neither be viewed as a silver bullet or as a straightjacket imposed on students."
  • Encouraging Continuous Improvement
    • "Learning and work quality should improve with each iteration of a design cycle." Comment
    • "Build time in your schedule for sharing and collaboration."
    • "... copying is not cheating. ... Each iterative change makes the program or design more your own."
    • "A non-competitive, sharing atmosphere supports innovation, creativity, and the iterative design process."
  • "Projects that are worth sharing will provide opportunities for students to share them authentically." Comment
  • Facing Complexity
    • "My daily challenge in our Makers group is cajoling eighth graders to face complexity honestly." Andrew Carle
    • "But I’m realizing that when the driving force behind the initial build isn’t passion or personal enthusiasm, when they’re just looking for something to do in the moment, then the post-mortem is too late. They’ve been disconnected from the project throughout and haven’t paid enough attention in the build to allow for meaningful reflection.
      ... I struggle every day to balance arbitrary “process” requirements in the limited time I have with students and their unwillingness to face complex tasks." Andrew Carle
  • "Mouth down frustration is when your hard drive crashes or you miss your bus. Your situation has deteriorated due to circumstances beyond your control.
    Mouth up frustration occurs when you get stuck while solving a problem or learning something you care about."
  • "Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed". - Maria Montessori
  • "Creation is the heart of creativity"
  • "This is why we question the use of “meta” activities like ropes courses, ice-breakers, or trust-building exercises as a separate curriculum."
  • "Students learn perseverance by working on projects that make them want to stick with them." Comment
  • Assessment
    • "... as long as teachers are required to assess, it should be as nonintrusive as possible and not distract students from the learning process."
    • "As for the research studies: Collectively, they make it clear that students who are graded tend to differ from those who aren’t in three basic ways. They’re more likely to lose interest in the learning itself. They’re more likely to prefer the easiest possible task. And they’re more likely to think in a superficial fashion as well as to forget what they were taught." (Kohn, 2010)
    • "Grading student work is likely to result in students being less willing to challenge themselves and to search for the easiest path to “done” rather than risk taking on another iteration of their projects."
    • "However, there are reasons rubrics may be counterproductive:
      • A rubric imposes the teacher’s vision of what the student work should look like at the end.
      • A rubric becomes the checklist for the project. It is difficult to argue that students will be creative when the rubric is very clear about how many words, how many slides, or how many photos need to be included in the student’s work.
      • Rubrics reinforce student dependency on how a teacher defines their work.
      • Serendipity is impossible when the rubric requires a predetermined outcome.
      • Human nature dictates that a student will expend minimum effort to receive a desired grade.
      • In too many cases, the 4 on a rubric is really just a B. This not only continues behaviorist forms of extrinsic motivation, but is intellectually dishonest. Grades are grades.
      • “Failure” is not an option. Making an interesting discovery or realizing that I need to learn more penalizes a student judged against a rubric. Comment
Chapter 6 - Making Today
  • You might consider reading Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson
  • "... teachers experience a seamless metamorphosis between mentor, student, colleague, expert, and personal shopper ..."
  • "The best way to activate your classroom is for your students to make something."
  • " ... it might take the form of costumes for a historical reenactment, homemade math manipulatives, a new curtain for the local auditorium, toys, a pet habitat, a messy science experiment, or a zillion other things."
  • "The tool( s) used are a whole lot less important than what is produced and the intellectual processes employed."
  • Writing - "Editing is now continuous when it used to be arduous and intermittent." Comment
  • "Audience is a key element in motivating a person to write, and informs what they write as well. Motivation also increases when the product of student writing is attractive and valued by others."
  • "Writing, filmmaking, and presenting information are the low-hanging fruit of creative expression in the digital age. ... simple painting, drawing, and animation programs allow kids to create great art too. Crayons and paint can and should co-exist with digital tools. Old media can be digitized and merged with computer graphics in new forms of visual art. Low-cost drawing tablets bring precision and tactile aspects of hand-held tools to the creation of digital images."
  • "Great teachers know how to connect the curricular requirements found in such learner-centered activities and can document what students learned in the process."
Chapter 7 - The Game Changers
  • "The Game Changers: Fabrication, Physical Computing, and Programming" Comment
  • Fabrication
    • "There is every reason to believe that fabrication technology will change the world even more than the information technology revolution has." Comment
    • "The game-changing aspect of 3D printing extends beyond the ability to print something cool. The iterative tinkering process is employed while users continuously improve upon digital designs. The ease with which students can make real objects of their own design, with precision, expands the possibilities for engineering in the classroom."
    • "Students can share ideas and check each other’s work. This peer review has the advantage of not only catching mistakes, but also spreading ideas and techniques quickly through the whole class."
    • "In 3D printing, as in the real world, the result of miscalculation or misunderstanding the coordinate system is quite evident when you build an object that doesn’t work." Comment
    • "The “keychain syndrome,” therefore, revealed two of the crucial elements of learning environments based on digital fabrication. First, the equipment is capable of easily generating aesthetically attractive objects and products. Second, this generates an incentive system in which there is a disproportionate payoff in staying at a ‘local minimum’ where the projects are very simple but at the same time very admired by external observers. Settling for simple projects is a temptation that educators have to avoid at all cost." (Blikstein, 2013) Comment
    • "It will not only be the students who are tempted by the keychain syndrome, but the teacher as well." Bling over bang
  • Physical Computing
    • "Physical computing is the game changer that allows kids to invent working machines. Learners design, construct, and program “smart” machines to live outside of the computer and interact with the world."
    • "Debugging now takes two forms: hardware and software."
    • "Physical computing brings the fun, creativity, and problem solving of electronics back into the lives of kids."
  • Programming
    • "Learning to program a computer is an act of intellectual mastery that empowers children and teaches them that they have control of a piece of powerful technology. Students quickly learn that they are the most important part of the computer program."
    • "Programming a computer means nothing more or less than communicating to it in a language that it and the human user can both “understand.” And learning languages is one of the things children do best. Every normal child learns to talk. Why then should a child not learn to “talk” to a computer?" - Seymour Papert, Mindstorms (Papert, 1980)
    • "Debugging, meaning eliminating a “bug” (error) or overcoming an obstacle in a computer program, develops habits of mind and systemic thinking skills beneficial for a lifetime."
    • "Replacing computing fluency with computer literacy is like sacrificing orchestra for music appreciation." Comment
    • "Over time, the growth of the consumer software industry and more user-friendly operating systems dwarfed amateur computer programming with more passive computer use." Comment
    • "Programming is the nervous system of the maker revolution."
    • “All of this talk of invention and robots and wearable computers is fine and dandy, but I have a curriculum to cover.” Although teachers have more flexibility in how curriculum is “covered” than some like to admit, you are indeed responsible for students learning specific things. Making, tinkering, and engineering can lead to greater understanding of traditional topics too. Comment
    • "Devoting several class periods to one project may be much more efficient than spending several years of instruction on the same topic." Comment
    • "By making thinking visible, Logo inspires teachers who gain a greater insight into the minds of their students while observing the thought processes used while programming and evaluating the artifacts created."
    • "It is valuable for your students to see the teacher model learning, ... The more you use a programming language, the more you will understand what types of projects are possible. You will be better able to steer students away from complexities that will derail their projects and lead them towards success." Comment
    • "There is a difference between languages designed for getting work done vs. languages designed for building thinking skills."
    • "Do not impose professional programming techniques like flowcharts, sorting algorithms, or “correct” syntax on them. When babies learn to walk, you don’t teach them walking rules or make them write walking plans. You let them walk, fall down, get up, and try, try again. Do not worry that your students will learn “bad” programming habits. Their first experience is simply to get them engaged and empowered."
    • "Most programming languages, especially Logo-based languages, will easily fit into an iterative model. ... Almost all programmers learn by modifying existing code samples and playing around with changing little bits here and there." Comment
    • "Help students break down a programming challenge into steps that are achievable. They do not have to program everything at once."
    • "Error messages and the outcome of the program will give instant feedback to your student."
Chapter 8 - Stuff
  • "Great teachers are highly skilled hoarders! Well-stocked classroom libraries, supplies, gadgets, technology, tools, toys, recycled materials and other assorted stuff within an arm’s reach of students are learning accelerants. ... You never know what a learner might need and when, so within the parameters of space, tidiness, and good taste, fill your classroom with stuff.
  • "Recycling junk teaches students to open up and look at anything in their world as part of their problem-solving toolkit."
  • Allocating Your Budget - "Of the total, around 40% was allocated for major equipment purchases with another 10% for spare parts for that equipment. Consumable supplies and electronic parts each got about 10% of the budget. 10% was spent on tools and another 10% on computers. The remaining 10% covered books, safety equipment, cleaning supplies, office supplies, and storage." Commenting on FabLab budget
Chapter 9 - Shaping the learning Environment
  • "The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge." - Seymour Papert
  • "An “ideal” tool allows kids to make/ hack/ play quickly enough to close the engagement loop, but still offers enough substance that it will feel qualitatively different than the pre-fab challenge of “normal” school." Comment
  • "Help or Get out of the Way!"
  • "... great teachers possess the curiosity, life experience, research skills, Rolodex, and habits of mind that lead to asking the right question at the moment a student requires motivation or debugging help." Comment
  • "It is incumbent upon educators to cherish the gifts that children bring to us, even if just an absence of fear, and help them build upon those gifts, to go farther than they could have gone on their own."
  • "Documentation, whether in the form of a lab report, inventor’s notebook, video, podcast, design portfolio, blog, or wall poster, serves multiple functions and many masters. The crudest use of documentation is for grading. Documentation should be used to make private thinking public or invisible thinking visible." Comment
  • "Such images in progress tell a child’s learning story, invite others to engage with their thinking, and provide an artifact to refer to while reflecting on a project or remembering how to solve a similar problem in the future." Comment
  • "Cameras should be charged and widely available in order to capture powerful “Aha!” moments and record evidence of learning, even misconceptions or bugs, in a fashion impossible with pencil and paper."
  • "Completing a simple to-do list at the start and finish of a making session may also be beneficial for the learner who needs help planning or for the teacher who requires documentation of progress."
  • Collaboration and Group Work
    • "The purpose of working together is interdependence. Each member of the team gains benefit by working collaboratively. If there is no benefit to working together or if the collaboration is burdensome to the process, then why do it?"
    • "Identifying expertise in others and knowing when collaboration best suits a situation is an important 21st century skill." Comment
    • "When you do assign groups, be sure to keep each team to four or fewer members. Beyond that number, it is likely that some students are not participating." Comment
  • "If you step in too early and always solve their problems for them, they will not learn how to push past that early frustration on the road to solving tough problems."
  • "Some teachers like to inspire students by showing the final products of former students before embarking on a project. Reasonable educators are free to disagree on this practice. It is clearly a close call. We recommend against showing examples of completed projects ..."
  • "We get it. Some of the new hardware for making is expensive, and perhaps even a bit dangerous. However, it would be more dangerous to relegate the learning opportunities afforded by making, tinkering, and engineering to one special 42-minute class period per week. To more fully realize its potential, making should be the primary activity across the curriculum, not a field trip."
  • "Find examples of safety rules at makerspace and hackerspace sites online. Makerspace Playbook Contains ideas for makerspace safety and rules."
  • "In all cases, guard against hoarding and discourage waste."
  • "As a teacher, try not to impose your own ideas of order and pick the battles that truly result in improvements for student learning."
  • "The answer to the question, “How much X do I need?” is that you need enough of X to allow every student to exceed the expectations of your assignment and keep their object together long enough for others to admire it. This may require teachers to vary the units of inquiry or stagger the sequence of projects to maximize the use of resources by all kids, classes, and courses." Comment
Chapter 10 - Student Leadership
  • "The biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity for the Maker Movement is to transform education. My hope is that the agents of change will be the students themselves." — Dale Dougherty Comment
  • "Continually ask yourself, “What can my students do instead of me doing it? How can my students be agents of change rather than objects of change?” Comment
  • "If you are a tech guru, it may be especially difficult to let go of the reins and not do everything yourself. After all, it is a given that you could do it better and faster. But that’s not the goal. The goal is for the students to learn." Comment
  • "This 'letting go' is not being a lazy teacher by making students do your job for you. Far from it. A teacher is highly engaged in the art of empowering young people, not getting work done."
  • "Make 'Three before me' the motto of your classroom, meaning a student should not ask you for help before they ask three of their classmates." Comment
  • "Students can be given badges or ranks that identify them as experts. Escalating privileges, such as being allowed to check out or manage special equipment, could be given along the way." Comment
  • "Teach mentoring explicitly: Students almost always feel that they learn best by doing, but when they become the teacher they tend to lecture. Remind your little lecturers that that’s not how people learn best. Teach them how to ask probing questions, be polite, and to not grab the mouse or tools away from the person they are helping."
  • "It’s not the technology that engages or empowers, it’s the outcome of students (or anyone) doing meaningful work." Comment
Chapter 11 - Make Your Own Maker Day
  • "A Maker Day is not the same as a science fair. There is often too much 'show and tell' or competition at a science fair. A Maker Day is about creativity and collaboration. It celebrates individual ingenuity within the context of the creative culture of shared values."
  • “Our students learn by doing. We solve problems with modern tools, materials, and techniques. We value creativity and collaboration. Join us!”
  • Comment
Chapter 12 - Making the Case
  • Love the yeah buts of this chapter! Way too many good/accurate/sad/funny ones to list.
  • “If you have a vision of Someday you can use this to guide what you do Monday. But if your vision of where it is going is doing the same old stuff a bit (or a lot) better, your efforts will be bypassed by history.” Papert, 1998
  • "The argument for making, tinkering, and engineering should not be as an “alternative” way to learn, but what modern learning really looks like."
  • "Convincing your students that school can be different may be more difficult than you think. Kids have been taught through the years to expect teachers to spoon-feed them detailed recipes for success. Removing that safety net may cause some cognitive dissonance, especially for your most successful students. Such students have succeeded at mastering the rules of school and are not going to be happy when their competitive advantage is diminished." Comment
  • "The computer has revolutionized every other aspect of society and the next phase of this revolution is fabrication and physical computing."
Chapter 13 - Do Unto Ourselves
  • add


  • Will they cover making in the broader sense? Writing, painting, pretend play, etc.
  • How is tinkering different than hacking? Than remixing? Than iterating?
  • What's the connection between iterating and prototyping?
  • Can students mentally iterate? Isn't that planning? I can iterate mentally, iterate on paper, iterate through prototypes, iterate through CAM/3D printing. Does that blend with the idea of planning?
  • The "keychain syndrome" isn't the only syndrome found in these classes/environments. What others have you seen?
  • What are the benefits/drawbacks of sharing student exemplars? Showing weaker and stronger exemplars? Exemplars of processes and products? Are some uses more beneficial or detrimental than others?

Connections to Engage and Thinkering Studio

  • re:Make, Share, Reflect, Iterate/Ideate
  • Change "reflection" to once a week, when it fits
  • Change planning to creating an actionable to do list? (Use ideas from GTD?)

Related Resources