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Making Makers


Kids’ Country kids love our focus on the Maker Movement—a learning experience that merges the DIY culture with cutting edge technology. But the Maker Movement has also swept up our staff! In this guest blog by one of our creative program staff members, Lynda Ryan, you’ll get a sense of why kids are natural Makers!

The Maker Faire is coming to the San Mateo Fairgrounds May 20-22! Kids’ Country highly recommends grabbing your camera and your kids and  heading on over to “the greatest show and tell on earth”.  I only learned of this spectacular event last year and was totally unprepared for the magnitude of the Maker Movement.

You can buy tickets at Event Brite.

Last year, when I walked through the gate of the San Mateo Events Center for my very first Maker Faire, I felt as if I had been dropped onto the set of Mad Max or been transported to Burning Man.  There was so much to see in the epic proportion category. Moving indoors, things were more familiar. The sheer volume of materials was mind-boggling. There were Legos. I know Legos, but I’ve never seen them like this…an entire city of Legos!  With moving parts that lit up and beeped.

Adjacent to this metro marvel were chairs surrounding an 8’x10’ tarp filled with even more Legos.  There, kids were scrambling like ants to the top of the pile of Legos. There were kids in front of laptops and circuit boards. Kids were operating a giant robotic Spirograph and soldering things to other things. Kids were using glue guns and 3D printers. Kids, of all ages, were making.

Nearly 55,000 people attended that day, more than half of them were kids. All of them were interacting, experimenting, exploring and “making” hands-on projects.

So what is a Maker?  Very simply – a maker makes things. Making things encourages discovery, nurtures creativity, embraces autonomy, builds community, celebrates failure, and develops competence.  Making grows 21st century skills, the stuff our kids are going to need to succeed in our 21st century world.

And where does all this “making” happen?

In a MakerSpace!  While anyone can create their own space for making, Google the word “MakerSpace” and you will discover that there are MakerSpaces all over the Bay Area, ranging from well-stocked facilities with cool names like “Thinqubator”  and “ColLABoratory”  to corners of the school library supervised by volunteer teachers. And, of course, we have our own MakerSpace at Kids’ Country! These are all places where Makers come with ideas and are able to find and use the tools they need to bring their ideas to life. Makers meet other Makers in these special environments. The Maker mindset is collaborative and engenders the philosophy of consume less, contribute more.

Kids Country has joined the Maker Movement and is piloting a MakerSpace at our Country Club site.   This dedicated space allows kids to explore and experiment with materials and create prototypes designed to meet a challenge or solve a problem. Sometimes the challenge is presented by our staff, but most of the time the kids decide for themselves.  They use real tools, safely and under supervision, so they gain real skills.  They experience the design thinking process:  Empathize – Define – Ideate – Prototype – Test.

 And a number of our Enrichment classes like Curiosity Kids and Engineering Adventures, both taught by our Resident Artist/Curriculum Specialist JP Neang, use more portable spaces and incorporate Design Thinking, exploration, tinkering and Making. Kids’ Country’s Specialty Camps are also great venues for young Makers.

Kids Country is making Makers.

KC Staff member Linda Ryan has 35 years of experience in Early Childhood Education and Out of School Programs serving in various capacities including administration, program development and training.

KC Staff member Linda Ryan has 35 years of experience in Early Childhood Education and Out of School Programs.

Kids' Country supports a child's natural curiosity and love of learning in a safe and inspired environment where they can discover their passions and achieve great things.