The maker movement is a trend in which individuals or groups of individuals create and market products that are recreated and assembled using unused, discarded or broken electronic, plastic or virtually any raw material and/or product from a computer-related device.
Educational and cognitive theorists refer to this approach to learning as Constructivism, after the learning theory put forth by Jean Piaget. Contrary to traditional models of learning through direct instruction, constructivists view the learning process as an evolving effort to refine what we know through assimilation and accommodation of information. When we as learners experience something new that fits a given schema, we join it with our existing notions of the way things are. Conversely, when we experience something that contradicts what we thought we knew to be true, we accommodate our paradigm to include information gained through new discoveries.
The Maker Movement along with its establishment of makerspaces focuses on setting up learning environments where students have the tools and resources necessary for such constructivist learning to take place. Tools that might be found in any given makerspace include glue guns, arduinos, soldering irons, legos, cardboard, recycled materials, hammers, and more. If it lends itself to designing, building, or experimentation, it can probably be found next to a maker.
The maker movement is primarily the name given to the increasing number of people employing do-it-yourself (DIY) and do-it-with-others ( DIWO) techniques and processes to develop unique technology products. Generally, DIY and DIWO enables individuals to create sophisticated devices and gadgets, such as printers, robotics and electronic devices, using diagrammed, textual and or video demonstration.
The maker movement holds particular promise for science, technology, engineering and math classrooms. Amazing new tools, materials, and skills turn us all into makers. Using technology to make, repair, or customize the things we need brings engineering, design, and computer science to the masses. Hundreds of thousands of adults and children are frequenting Maker Faires, hackerspaces, and DIY (Do-It-Yourself) websites. This maker movement overlaps with the natural inclinations of curious children and the power of learning by doing. It holds the keys to reanimating the best, but oft-forgotten learner-centered teaching practices. The magic of the middle years, where students can shift seamlessly between childhood play and preparation for serious academics are the perfect place for these engaging, transformative new tools and materials.