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What makes us DIFFERENT for other maker programs?

Most maker classes are focused on either the imaginative side of invention, or on putting parts together. Our approach adds a third component – CONNECTED KNOWLEDGE– to the mix, helping kids see how invention has shaped human development. Scientific concepts & mechanical know-how are understood at a deeper level when taught within HISTORICAL CONTEXT and through REAL WORLD APPLICATION.

Understanding HOW INVENTORS THINK – the way they see the world, the systems they develop to organize and link ideas, and the skills they used to bring their designs to life – helps kids develop their own inventive thinking. Knowing how people designed technologies to solve PROBLEMS IN THE PAST builds a solid base for future problem-solving.

Why ENGINEERING and DESIGN?

EMPATHY

The great inventors of the world work to SOLVE PROBLEMS. As people struggle with everyday tasks, inventors seek to understand that struggle so they can find a way to lessen it. Whether building simple machines or complex bridges, empathy is key to design. Students learn to think of a design challenge as a way to solve a problem, and thus spend early stages of the design process EMPATHIZING with end users to get to the root of that problem.

COMMUNICATION & COLLABORATION

BRAINSTORMING and coming up with creative solutions in a group setting fosters communication and encourages students to LEARN FROM ONE ANOTHER. Also, developing the ability to SPEAK UP for an idea and LISTEN to peers is critical for life skills that kids will carry on with them.

Redefining FAILURE

Allowing students to TINKER with an idea or a design moves them away from the trap of perceived failure. Early PROTOTYPES of any design likely won’t work perfectly. A “failure” in engineering doesn’t represent the end of a line, as a test grade might, but rather the beginning of a PROCESS in which trial after trial brings students closer to solving a problem through design.

STEM skills

At the elementary level, even the act of measuring a dowel helps reinforce burgeoning math CONFIDENCE. As design challenges become more complex, so too do the math and science skills required to build them. Students begin to see the real world application of math and science as part of a larger TOOLKIT that they can use to bring their ideas to life.

*  “Design Process” as envisioned by the Stanford d.school