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Wood Shop Class Gets an Upgrade Thanks to the Maker Movement

Is tinkering now a pedagogy?

The New York Times thinks it’s official.

"The blending of technology and craft in tools like 3-D printers and laser cutters has made it possible for ordinary people to make extraordinary things. And many ordinary people, living as they do, more and more in their heads and online, are yearning to do something with their hands,” NYT said.

As a result, wood shop class has gotten quite the modern update with the advent of the maker movement- or the STEM-focused movement that encourages children to build and create using high-tech tools.

NYT took a look at what’s going on at the Rutger’s Livingston campus, where a maker space offers groups of students tools and equipment to tinker and create.

"There are 3-D printers, which can be programmed to create wildly inventive shapes out of plastic or resin... There is a laser cutter to etch materials like fabric, marble or wood and cut through plastic. Next door is an electronics shop, with racks upon racks of parts.”

Students from all backgrounds and with all kinds of goals use the space to create.

Rutgers graduate Alexandra Garey told NYT she used the space for a wide range of goals, including the creation of a tool for autism students ( a grip for a pencil or crayon that could be fitted with an extension so the teacher could guide the hand of students who dislike being touched) and making French presses out of Illy cans.

But maker spaces aren’t just taking off in the higher education realm. K-12 students are also increasingly having such spaces be made available to them.

Thanks to lowered prices on pivotal technology like 3D printers, open educational resources and an increase in focus on STEM studies, maker spaces are huge part of many K-12 communities.

In fact, libraries are beginning to find their spot in the 21st century by hosting such maker spaces for local school use. 

"The next Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak...are more likely to emerge from a maker space than a garage,” said the co-founder of the New Jersey Makerspace Association, Stephen M. Carter to the NYT.

Read the full story.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

2/8/2016

Image courtesy of S&S Worldwide.

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