Making to Learn at Maker Faire Orlando

People are seeing through the eyes and the hands and the screens of children what’s possible, and it’s re-energizing progressive views of education.” Gary Stager, co-author with Sylvia Libow Martinez of “Invent to Learn”,  in How to Turn Your School into a Maker Haven (MindShift)

maker ed flyerMaker Faire Orlando is inviting educators to “Harness the Maker Movement in Your Classroom” with a special Educators session September 13th (registration required) that will feature Dale Dougherty, founder and CEO of Maker Media, Inc.;   Jay Silver, Founder/Director of JoyLabz/MakeyMakey , and Mark Greenlaw , Vice President of Digital Engagement at FIRST.  All three are founding board members of the Maker Education Initiative (MakerEd) that seeks to  create more opportunities for all young people to develop confidence, creativity, and interest in science, technology, engineering, math, art, and learning as a whole through making.

“Making is a stance about learning,”  Sylvia Libow Martinez co-author of Invent to Learn, recently told MindShift, “It’s the landscape you create in a classroom or any kind of learning space where kids have agency over what they do and a large choice of materials that are rich, deep and complex.”

At Maker Faire Orlando, there will  be several interactive educator workshops, including  Mixed Reality teaching, digital literacy for educators, innovative ways to explore math, and a look at FIRST youth robotics in the classroom, as well as a healthy complement of maker education resources that all provide “rich, deep and complex” learning opportunities.


Learning at Ampersand School in Longwood, FL

Ampersand School is one of those resources, a K-12 Maker School, in Longwood, FL that aims to be “the school we all wish we could have gone to when we were students. ” It is a school based on the principles of learning by doing, on making to learn.  The school has three main outcomes they hope for their students:

  • Happiness – To learn well, the school believes their students should be happy in their learning environment
  • Confidence –As learners and as citizens, Ampersand believe that confidence is a necessary character trait.
  • Action – Being action-oriented will help students accomplish their greater goals.

The school strives for these outcomes in the maker tradition so aptly described by Martinez, by encouraging students to play.  Shydonna Tossie, Managing Director of Ampersand School,  says the school allows students to explore their passions, while assisting them in finding purpose.

“We want students to be proud of who they are and of their unique abilities, apart from any labels. This means we accept and make allowances for students’ individual learning styles. We also give students the opportunity to spend a larger than average proportion of their time working in the subject about which they are most passionate. Not every student needs an equal grasp of mathematics, or history, or chemistry, for the simple reason that not every adult equally draws on these subjects in their respective careers.”

But every student, says Martinez, can become a capable person.  “Perhaps one of the most inspiring results of the Maker Movement is the creative confidence young people are developing. “The best thing that happens is a student completely exceeds your expectations.” said Martinez, in MindShift.  “We want kids to approach any challenge in the world and say, ‘Cool, I can figure it out.’

You can see how kids are figuring it out, and ways you can help your kids figure it out, too,  at Maker Faire Orlando, September 13 & 14.




Makey Makey Monome

Jenna deBoisblanc’s MaKey MaKey Monome musical instrument.

Jenna deBoisblanc’s MaKey MaKey Monome musical instrument.

Jay Silver successfully crowd funded his Makey Makey invention kit back in 2012 and its come as no surprise to see makers designing unusual musical instruments (and a boatload of game controllers) with them since the kits release. One of the more unusual musical instruments to be made from kit is Jenna deBoisblanc’s MaKey MaKey Monome, which looks like a futuristic LED-light piano of sorts.

Jenna designed the touchscreen musical instrument using the invention kit along with some NeoPixels, some copper tape and cardboard. The cardboard acts as the latticework that houses the individually addressable LEDs that light-up the instrument’s squares, which is covered by a 22-inch piece of glass covered on the bottom with white paper to diffuse the light. 64 copper triggers are positioned over the glass, light the corresponding LED and generate a tone when touched. The MaKey MaKey kit translates those individual ‘touchscreens’ into sounds using Jenna’s Processing Sketch music software, which assigns a different note to each touch-square and thereby creating beautiful music with the added bonus of a light show.

Apparently, the MaKey MaKey kit can be swapped out for an Arduino for those that prefer the development board. See at Instructables or the project page

See the first video in the series here:


Electronic Windchimes, Physical Minecraft and 8 Other Slick MaKey MaKey Projects


Banana piano. Play-Doh game controller. Pencil and paper keyboard. We first saw the incredible projects that the versatile and easy-to-use MaKey MaKey board made possible at Bay Area Maker Faire in 2012, where creators Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum of MIT delighted the crowd and took home an editor’s pick. Shortly after that, it blasted to Kickstarter success with more than $500,000 in funding.

MakerShed_Holiday_Hdr-Logo_bur02Since then, the diminutive, Arduino-compatible board has been released to the world and has quickly become one of our favorite products. It’s the perfect tool to inspire kids and adults alike, and has been used for an incredible array of creations. Here are ten of the our favorites, from incredible music instruments to a target range to a banana-controlled drone.

You can get MaKey MaKey in the Maker Shed — it makes a fantastic holiday present.

See all of our Shed picks here.