It’s just one day before the World Maker Faire takes place in New York City. Unfortunately, I am on the other side of the country and will not be able to make it there. But I did attend my first real (Mini) Maker Faire here in Portland, OR last weekend and, honestly, now the teacher in me wants to buy a plane ticket and fly out to New York tomorrow. Here’s why teachers should go to Maker Faires:

1. Ideas- When I am looking to teach something different or add a project to my curriculum, my instinct is to Google it. Well, a  Maker Faire is Google for projects- come to life! I felt like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, leaving my “black and white” search results and walking into a magical land where some many of the projects I’d like to consider using in my classroom were happening in living color right before my eyes!

2. Connections/ Networking- Just like conferences and edcamps, etc. one of the best parts of the Maker Faire, for me, was meeting people. It reminded me of attending my first edcamp, actually. I was blown away by how many people in this town invest so deeply in their passions, spend an entire weekend showcasing it, and consistently contribute to Portland’s rich and artistic culture we are so fortunate to be surrounded by here. I found that “makers” are very generous people. They are there because they want to share their passions, particularly with students. I left with cards, contacts and a list of great people who were experts in fields I could only dream of understanding but want to connect and help students in any way possible.

3. Resources- project based learning is really one of the best ways to learn. From a teacher’s perspective, it’s not always easy to prepare for. Projects require materials and expertise that are definitely not found in a “traditional” classroom space so teachers are on their own and have to search for what they need outside of school. Search no further teachers. Every type of supply you could ever dream of is being used at the Maker Faire! It’s basically one – stop shopping for project supplies and resources in your surrounding local area.

4. Field Testing- Along those same lines, implementing projects into the classroom requires a teacher willing to take risks. Projects outcomes are not always predictable, especially the first time when teachers aren’t sure “what it will look like.” Wonder no more! Teachers can come to Maker Faires and see so many of these projects in action. A Maker Faire is the perfect “lab” experience for teachers to go see what works, how it could work and what doesn’t work.

5. Fun- For the simple reason of just seeing all the fun things there are to make and learn, go. Your head will spin from all the cool and fun subjects everyone is learning about… no pressure, no tests, no limitations… just fun.

All photos taken by Suzie Puetz of Suzie Puetz Photograpy.

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