The education system is complex. It has diverse stakeholders and plays out in equally diverse environments. To make any sort of sustainable change, you have to be able to engage many stakeholders at all levels of systemic influence. As Inside/Out seeks to change how people think about creativity, STEM and notebooking, we’ve found a strong cohort of teacher-leaders to help us explore how these practices might live in a classroom. In the past five days, we’ve added new stakeholders to the conversation: makers, entrepreneurs, museum educators and pre-service teachers.

 Meet the Makers Panel | Photo courtesy The Tech Museum of Innovation, used with permission

Meet the Makers Panel | Photo courtesy The Tech Museum of Innovation, used with permission

On Saturday, April 26, Natalie Freed and I went to The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, CA to speak about notebook hacking at their Open Make: Flow event. The panel of speakers ranged from young makers who created a person-sized version of a smart phone game to entrepreneurs creating toys that teach electronics to an artist who explores the human body as projection surface. We also got a demo of new conductive ink from AgIC, which can be purchased in pen or printer cartridge form.

It’s always interesting to hear about how people develop their projects and how they navigate the cyclical process of envisioning, creating, testing, iterating. And while creative and hobbyist electronics can produce all kinds of effects like sound or motion, it was telling that all the projects showcased involved light. The range of ages attending and presenting at the Open Make: Flow event speaks to the universal appeal of making and tinkering. Such multigenerational learning communities provide richer experiences for all participants and speaks to the authenticity of the engagement.

 A drawing by a pre-service teacher at San Francisco State University

A drawing by a pre-service teacher at San Francisco State University

Then on Tuesday, April 29, David Cole of CV2 and I facilitated a three-hour paper circuitry workshop at San Francisco State University for pre-service art and science teachers. Drs. Larry Hovarth (science education) and Julia Marshall (art education) have long advocated and modeled the importance of arts integration. Being able to reach new teachers during their period of student teaching is a powerful opportunity: they’re still actively forming their conceptions of what good instructional practice looks like.

The post-activity discussion was wonderful. When posed with the provocative question “Is this more of a science or art activity?” the pre-service teachers of both disciplines debated. Both science and art teachers felt strongly that paper circuitry had a strong grounding in their discipline, but as conversation continued, a consensus formed: it’s both and that’s part of what makes it so interesting.

Next up: Pre-service museum educators at JFK University on May 20. Become part of our larger 21st century notebooking community by joining our Google+ group.

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