- the college student making amazing-sounding bass & guitar effects pedals (Aleksandar, your stuff was awesome!) And the "molecule synthesizer" gentleman right beside him. And many props to the Dr. Blankenstein crew - again, creative and musical!
- littleBits (love them! bought the kit! will be buying more!)
- the seemingly exponentially-growing number of 3-D printer companies (especially impressed by the Tinkerine Studio printer. Want one.)
- the upcycling clothing makers who cleverly knitted mittens into their sweatshirts where the pockets would normally go
- the homemade bicycles with big butterfly wings attached to the back
- Gabriel Anzziani's miniature oscilloscopes (so cool. Want one.)
- The folks at manylabs.com who are creating excellent science & math projects using sensors, games, and simulations (über-cool. Want to learn more.)
- The boatloads and bushel baskets full of Arduino kits (bought two from Adafruit Industries, which I need to figure out what to do with. Want more.)
- The students representing schools from all over the Northeast, showing off with pride all of the cool and amazing things they'd made, programmed, and done (much impressed with the cemetech.net group for finally doing something useful with graphing calculators, and the clone computers kids).
- The robots, and remote-controlled cars, and, and, and...
- Schools where the students are doing projects that are meaningful (in not just a personal, individual sense, but in a very real-world sense), sustainable, and truly collaborative are schools where students can be successful, even for those who have struggled in other academic settings. They did so by describing a very interesting business project that some of their students developed last year - and many of the things that the students (and they) learned in the process.
- Schools where the teachers are constantly learning, constantly engaged, and constantly growing professionally (from within, not from some externally-imposed PD metric) are schools where teachers will not burn out, but want to stay.
When I think about the realm of the possible in education, truthfully, I'm not terribly interested in the math wars (Singapore! Spiral! Mastery!), or the effects that the Common Core will or will not have on public education, or on the smaller questions of how to teach fractions better, or on why logarithms are or are not important any more. I'm more interested in the "how" questions:
- How will we best educate our children, ALL of them. I've been thinking back to my recent blog posts about the purposes of teaching algebra (or not). While I do believe that algebra is a good thing for anyone who is educated to know something about, I do not believe that there is one best way to do it, or that everyone needs to learn it in the same way, or that everyone needs to learn it at the same time.
- How should we pass along the knowledge that humanity has accumulated over the centuries?
- How do we teach our young people to appreciate, use, and add to that vast cultural heritage? I recognize that an answer to that might mean that not everyone learns, say, the history of the Industrial Revolution, or that everyone learns factoring quadratics. But giving all students an appreciation of where we've been (in the big picture sense) and where we could go, I think, is critical.
Details? After all, all I am talking about doing is "making" (Making?). "Making" is not just about making stuff. It's about a mindset that if you don't like the way something is, you roll up your sleeves and fix it, improve it, or create it yourself. Fail better, fail faster, fail more often. Then get up and try again. I'm pretty good at failure.