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'Tis the Season of Making: Innovation, Science and Art in the Maker Movement


Why do we humans want to make things? What is it that drives us to create? Why do we build or paint or design something that is either beautiful or something that will make our lives better- or both? What do “Makers” know and do that could benefit us all? In this season of gift seeking and giving, I’d like to encourage you to join the Maker Movement. Become a Maker and use your STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills and your creativity to make something innovative that just might be that perfect gift. You too can become a part of a growing trend in America that weaves science and art into our daily lives. Check out this Science Matters’ video which features the science and technology side of the RVA Maker Fest. Then put your minds and hands to work and make something incredible.


Why make things?

Matthew Crawford, author of “Shop Class as Soulcraft” and fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia explains that “the Maker Movement is tapping into a really basic fact about us as human beings. From infancy we learn about the world by manipulating it, by sort of poking it and seeing how it pokes back.” This desire to explore our surroundings and learn more about how things work is an important element of the maker movement.

We also make things because “making things is fun!” Chuck English, Director of Playful Learning and Inquiry at the Science Museum of Virginia explains that yes, we make things because it's fun, but also “because we become passionate about something and want to investigate it further. This process is a great lesson for all of us.” Bruce Davies, Director of Chesterfield County’s Makerspace believes that the maker movement provides students with “hands-on opportunities where they actually have to make something happen. Kids rarely have the opportunity to apply the STEM knowledge they are learning. When they can make or create something this “sets” that knowledge.”

The maker movement is a big part of the DIY - do it yourself- movement and is leading to a renaissance in manufacturing. Brendan Fisher, of Deep Run High School’s FIRST Robotics Team 1086 Blue Cheese suggests that the maker movement “puts quality over quantity and is bringing back manufacturing into the home.” President Obama agrees and told participants at the first White House Maker Faire in June that “Today’s DIY is tomorrow’s ‘Made in America.’ Student maker faire projects are examples of a revolution that’s taking place in American manufacturing- a revolution that can help us create new jobs and industries for decades to come.”

Alison Palmer, also of Deep Run High School’s FIRST Robotics Team 1086, shares that one of the most important aspects of the maker movement is “learning by doing - not just listening.” She explains that “anyone can develop anything they want and it doesn’t require a huge lab anymore.” You can work at home or join a local makerspace. Makerspaces are popping up all over our community and welcome a diverse group of builders, hackers and hobbyists who share their resources and knowledge. Check out two local makerspaces Hack RVA and the Chesterfield County’s Makerspace. Here, you can learn about computer programming, electronics, 3-D printers, robotics, how to build things and much more.

So where will the maker movement take us? Innovation awaits. Enjoy the journey and make something cool this season.

Save the date for RVA MakerFest 2015 to beheld October 3, 2015 at the Science Museum of Virginia.

Click here for more information on RVA MakerFest 2014.