Dwight Students Showcase Innovations at Maker Faire 2015

The creativity, resourcefulness, and imaginations of Dwight students abound. These are impossible to harness, let alone to lasso in one place! Yet some of that ingenuity was on display at the sixth annual Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science ― the largest gathering of the Maker community, participants of the Maker movement, on the East Coast.

The creativity, resourcefulness, and imaginations of Dwight students abound. These are impossible to harness, let alone to lasso in one place! Yet some of that ingenuity was on display at the sixth annual Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science ― the largest gathering of the Maker community, participants of the Maker movement, on the East Coast.

What Is the Maker Movement?

Adweek magazine described it best as: "The umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers ... A convergence of computer hackers and traditional artisans, the niche is established enough to have its own magazine, Make, as well as hands-on Maker Faires that are catnip for DIYers who used to toil in solitude. Makers tap into an American admiration for self-reliance and combine that with open-source learning, contemporary design and powerful personal technology like 3-D printers."

Dwight Sparks on Display

Dwight students and teachers joined fellow Makers who showcased their experimentation and innovations from across the spectrum of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) as well as arts, performances, and crafts at the Maker Faire. In fact, students presented several years' worth of innovative projects from their Design and Technology courses, along with other areas of our IB curriculum. These included laser-cut, laser-engraved, 3D-modeled, and 3D-printed products, ranging from toys, games, and household and personal care items ... to jewelry boxes, iPhone cases, and more.

This is the second year in a row that Dwight participated in this popular Maker movement event. Our 2015 display, entitled "Design, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship," showcased how students use the IB Design Cycle to design and innovate products and solutions for real-world and global problems.

Nurturing Design and Innovation

Matt Moran, Director of Technology and Innovation, and Steve Farnsworth, MYP Technology Teacher and DP Design Technology Teacher, coordinated Dwight's presence at Maker Faire. "We are so proud of the creative projects that our students have made." says Mr. Moran. "Our school is dedicated to integrating innovation from the PYP all the way to the DP in the IB curriculum. Our new 1:1 technology program, along with the expansion of our Maker space and the recent launch of the Spark of Innovation program, are all focused on developing each student's spark of genius as well as the technology, leadership, and entrepreneurial skills to prepare them for our rapidly changing world."

Mr. Farnsworth ― an experienced educational Maker ― believes that the emphasis that Dwight and the IB place on design, technology, and innovation separates our school from others. He shared this perspective with Trimble, owner of SketchUp software, which tapped him for an on-site interview to share his insights about the Maker movement and education. SketchUp software is the 3D-modeling computer program that our students use, beginning in Timothy House, to design architecture, consumer products, and graphic characters, as well as to design and print 3D objects.

"The IB design cycle informs Dwight's Maker projects by providing students with more purpose and authenticity in their innovations," explains Mr. Farnsworth. "It helps them to focus on such essentials as the user group, research, prototyping, 3D modeling, evaluation, and marketing. This is often lacking in other schools, where Maker projects tend to focus on only a small part of the design cycle, leading to a limited project with less purpose and little student ownership. What is particularly powerful about Dwight is how much we stress that students design to solve global problems."

The IB curriculum plays a critical role in this emphasis. Mr. Farnsworth explains, "Our international outlook develops students who innovate for different cultures and people seeking to solve all kinds of global issues, from sustainability to poverty to climate change. The same is true of our graduates who innovate around the world. And with the new Spark of Innovation Program, we are encouraging our entire community to do so."

For Mr. Farnsworth, "the Maker movement is not just a trend, but a powerful STEM educational approach that empowers students to change the world in a direct and immediate way and to see themselves as agents of change."

It sounds like the Maker movement and Dwight have a great deal in common!

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