First things first, I am still incredibly passionate about free software in education. To add to this passion, I have realized through different experiences that the use of free hardware is equally important.
Now for a short reflection…..
This summer I had the pleasure of working at a makerspace here in San Antonio as a part of the Maker Corps through the Maker Education Initiative. What an opportunity this was to gain first hand experience of the impact that making and free/open-source software/hardware has in the educational realm. The makerspace had a different group of students ranging from ages 6-12 years old. Many of the students we worked with this summer had little access to modern technology resources at home like a computer or internet connection. This was quite an experience for them to create and explore several tools such as Scratch, the MaKeyMaKey, etc.
Specifically, I remember two students who designed the most complex game in Scratch I had seen all summer. These two kids had no previous programming experience and extremely limited access to a computer at home. It was bittersweet to see how involved and creative the students became with Scratch, knowing that their experience with it would potentially be brief. Looking back, I wish we had provided flash drives with all of the software we were using and the work they created, so they could take it home to tinker with it once they finished the weeklong camp.
This summer was definitely a learning experience for me. The most immediate problem with the camp is that it is just that, a week long summer camp. It sparked interest in many of the students, who wanted to continue learning about the tools at the makerspace after their camp experience. Some of them would tell us that they wished they could come to the makerspace to learn instead of going to school.
I would like to explore that notion further. I am becoming increasingly interested in out of school and home school programs as a result of the makerspace experience. I wonder what people are doing in these programs that may relate to the general maker movement.
That’s all for now.