One of the advantages of my new school is its location. We are in downtown San Antonio – steps from the Riverwalk, downtown courthouses, parks, museums, and the Central Library. Our students go on many walking field trips, and we try to take advantage of our location whenever possible. Last weekend, the Central Library hosted the San Antonio Mini Maker Faire. A couple of my colleagues who also teach in our Maker Space at Advanced Learning Academy have been working with their students for a couple of months to design projects for the Faire.
Our school emphasizes exhibitions of student work, but this event had the added pressure of being open to the public. The students did not disappoint. Their projects included: a “Soc-Car” game with remote control cars on a soccer field moving ping pong balls, laser cut lanterns, upcycled toys, masks, ornithopters, wooden robots, and screen-printed shirts.
One highlight was “Fruit Guillotine,” admittedly a nerve-wracking demonstration every time as the aluminum blade whooshed down to decapitate bananas. Children were delighted, begging for multiple turns, as anxious parents stood nearby.
Watching the students interact with guests of the Maker Faire was wonderful. I heard descriptions of their design processes, details of failures and problem-solving, and obvious pride in what they had accomplished. Some of them were already prepared with ideas for what they will do differently next year.
Watching my colleagues conduct this project with the students was inspirational, and I am already determined my own students will participate next year. If you have the same opportunity (many cities host similar events), I highly recommend you consider guiding your students through this experience. It is a lot of hard work, but making for a genuine audience is always rewarding.