Help Kids Be Active Builders of Knowledge

Here’s our interview with Sunanna Chand, Learning Innovation Strategist with the Remake Learning Council of the Remake Learning Network.  The Network is a professional network of educators and innovators working together to shape the future of teaching and learning in the Greater Pittsburgh Region and a collaborator of Maker Faire Pittsburgh:

Why is Remake Learning involved with Maker Faire Pittsburgh?

Sunanna:  The Remake Learning Network is all about bringing people together to create engaging, relevant learning experiences for kids. Members of the Remake Learning Network think to themselves, “How can we help kids be active builders of knowledge, rather than passive consumers?”

Members of the Remake Learning Network are reimagining what learning looks IMGP1307 smalllike for many reasons, including to “meet kids where they are” and engage them in the learning process in more hands-on, relevant ways. These kinds of hands-on, technology-forward “tinkering” approaches to learning build problem-solving and collaboration “soft” skills, but they also support hard science and math learning. STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers are lucrative and highly in demand in our region.

For all of these reasons, Remake Learning Network members are natural participants in Maker Faire!

Where is making happening throughout the Pittsburgh region?

Sunanna: Learning is often associated with school, but educational experiences happen everywhere. The Remake Learning movement facilitates in- and out-of-school integration, so kids can relate to information in different contexts and apply skills to new scenarios. It is no coincidence that well MAKESHOPSprowls-7.jpgover 100 organizations in the region have adopted creative spaces for students to experience science, engineering, technology, arts, and math (also known as “makerspaces”); they are part of a larger, multi-sector community movement to engage kids through experiential learning.

In addition to those 100 makerspaces, there are also many MIT sanctioned FAB Labs, including two mobile labs housed at the Carnegie Science Center and the Intermediate Unit 1 that travel throughout the region.

How can educators learn more about the maker movement through the Remake Learning Network?

Sunanna:  Learning cannot be remade without exemplary educators leading the charge. With this in mind, Pittsburgh area organizations offer diverse making professional development experiences for teachers. The Children’s Museum’s Mobile MAKESHOP® offers educator workshops including materials and meals. These Maker Educator Boot Camps let teachers engage in open-ended activities that range from sewing to woodworking, electronics to digital-based making and more. Additionally, two years ago the Alleghany Intermediate Unit converted traditional office space into the aptly named transformED, a makerspace solely for teachers that includes devices for digital making. Teachers can explore, tinker, and collaborate in this colorful, dynamic space while learning first hand how to incorporate maker education into their classrooms. School districts are also increasingly collaborating to share best practices. In March 2014, the Elizabeth Forward School District initiated a consortium with five other districts to enrich their experiences in delivering content through creative, digital means. At TechShop, visited by President Obama in June 2014, has 16,000 square feet of workspace for adults – including teachers – to learn together with cutting-edge tools and technology.

And that’s just the beginning. There are at least 19 organizations in the Pittsburgh region that offer maker-based professional development, most of them completely free. Look for a brochure that showcases all of these professional development opportunities at Remake Learning Education Friday!