South Fayette School District visits during LISPITT

Right now, in your city or town — in your state and region — people are making things. They’re part of the Maker Movement, a revolution that’s unleashing digital design tools (like 3D modeling software) and production devices (like 3D printers), and letting citizens design and make almost anything they can dream.

Around the country, hundreds of schools and communities have harnessed the power of making to offer more compelling and effective 21st century learning opportunities for students. Still, we think more schools have a role to play in fostering the next generation of American makers.

That’s why, in partnership with the Maker Education Initiative, we’re launching the Maker Promise, a campaign to equip more citizens with the tools they need to enable students to design, invent, and make. The Maker Promise will build a national network of school leaders committed to making, and will connect participating schools with a suite of resources that will include things like maker curriculum, professional development, makerspace design, and storytelling strategies.

Maker education — or learning activities that incorporate the creativity of student-centered design and result in novel digital or physical creations — is a 21st century pedagogy for today’s students. By empowering students to explore their creativity through project- and challenge-based learning with real world relevance, maker education offers students motivation and agency. Making integrates critical deeper learning skills such as creativity, collaboration, design thinking, persistence, and growth mindset, equipping students with a more robust skillset better aligned with today’s global economy.

As it turns out, making isn’t just good for students, it’s good for America. The future of the global economy will be grounded in technology and innovation. The nations that win the future will be those that train their students to be scientists, technologists, engineers, mathematicians, entrepreneurs, and innovators. Currently, America isn’t inspiring enough students to pursue careers in those areas. In the U.S., only one percent of college undergraduates receive degrees in science, compared to 38 percent in South Korea, 47 percent in France, 50 percent in China, and 67 percent in Singapore. By offering students more hands-on projects aligned to their passions and relevant to their worlds, maker education has the potential to better engage students in school and prepare them for successful careers after graduation.

And yet, there’s something more intangible that draws us to making. It’s the perpetual curiosity that sent man to the moon and rovers to Mars, or the altruism that convinces a student to design and print a prosthetic limb for her classmate, or the ingenuity that compels students to develop products from their middle school. Inventors, innovators, and makers have gotten America to where we are.

We think makers will continue to shape the future of our country. We think that everyone has a role to play in creating a nation of makers, and we think school leaders have a unique ability to offer maker education opportunities to kids. That’s why, in response to President Obama’s Nation of Makers campaign, and in advance of the 2016 National Week of Making, we’re challenging schools around the country to commit to developing maker education in their schools.

Specifically, as part of the Maker Promise, we’re asking school leaders to:

  1. Dedicate a space for making
  2. Designate a champion of making
  3. Display what your students make

If you’re a school leader, we hope you’ll join this national movement by signing the Maker Promise today. When you sign, you’ll join a national network of school leaders committed to growing the next generation of American makers. As part of this network, we’ll send you a package of free resources — including resources such as maker curriculum, professional development, makerspace design, and storytelling strategies. Additionally, your submissions will be used to compile a joint letter to the President, which will be presented during the National Week of Making. Select individuals may be invited to attend a launch event this summer in Washington, DC.

We’re asking you to sign the Maker Promise today so more students have access to the tools and techniques that will drive America’s future.


About Karen Cator

Karen Cator is President & CEO of Digital Promise. You can follow her on Twitter at @kcator.

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