Our February Monthly Maker Educator Exchange brought together educators, librarians, artists and makers who all agreed on the fact that paper, cardboard, tape and glue should be part of every student's learning and are fantastic medium for creating a maker mindset.
Everyone nodded when they heard comments like .....
"It's a different type of learning ..."
"Kids need to touch stuff - they hold electronics but don’t hold paper, scissors, cardboard."
"Today’s students don’t know what to do with something that is not a KIT.
Stop focusing on KITS. Provide your students the opportunity to invent, imagine, discover.
Today’s kids needs this so much!"
"give me cardboard, duct tape, and a hard glue gun over a 3D printer and a laser cutter"
Jessica Wisloski reminded us that making with cardboard and paper is one way to make hands on learning more equitable and "both physically and materially accessible to all kids during remote learning." She carefully curates materials to send home to accompany her design thinking lessons such as this one one where students create water slides and diving boards for a specific user.
Video Intro: Water Slides & Diving Board Lesson Intro Video
We were also inspired by how resourceful educators can be when sourcing materials for their students to use.
Jessica's ideas to have students make using the materials from the lunchboxes delivered by the school on remote
learning days was a no-brainer. Christina has befriended local contractors who have to pay to get rid of materials
and has ended up with buckets filled with PVC pipe, extra plywood, and more. Darcie Rankin tipped us off that
in between the layers of stuff on the pallets at Costco there are large pieces of heavy brown poster board or thin cardboard that can be cut with scissors making it ideal for younger learners or for projects that require super large pieces.
There was a consensus that paper and cardboard provide the mindset that perfect products are not the goal - but that instead our focus should be on the mindset of prototyping and iterating by using an abundance of disposable materials that can be repurposed and recycled.
Another takeaway was that using woodworking tools and techniques with cardboard has proven very helpful to those who have access to them. Peter suggested using a table saw to cut up large pieces of cardboard to manageable pieces for your students to use. Lucie uses a drill press to add holes to thicker pieces in just the right places. You can even model making your own tools such as compasses or protractors using cardboard and paper.
Shannon Walters suggested that we study the science of cardboard (from fluting patterns to the grade and grain of cardboard). She is always helping teachers and students create cardboard attachments displays as a way of building skills and providing visual inspiration for their classrooms or makerspaces. Searching online for cardboard attachments can provide you with several examples. The following video shows you how to make several different types.
Shannon is also our resident expert at making literacy connections and offered us these two favorites .
Caty Wolfe shared how she uses cardboard to have students prototyping phone stands.
Students mock up and iterate to produce different bends and sizes - first with paper and scissors,
then cardboard. Finally they use a laser cutter to create a cardboard prototype.
When they are happy with their design, the students can cut the design with acrylic and
shape it using their classroom acrylic bender.
Leah Joly is also a fan of iteration in the design process with her students. Her students use
She offers an open ended prompt like "incorporate 2-3 simple machines in a project of your choice" to engage kids in personally meaningful making. Leah also encourages students to integrate different mediums and offers Microbits and Makey-Makey boards to her students at home or in the classroom.
Darcie Rankin shared the joy she gets watching her students process and develop a maker mindset when she uses the following paper challenge prompts.
Can you put your hand through a piece of paper?
Can you put your Head through a piece of paper?
Can you put your body through a piece of paper?
She also stressed the power in helping young learners become confident with skills like 'How to Tear Tape' --"Once they have this independence from me (the teacher) - They can do ANYTHING!"
She gives her littles a long piece of tape and ask them to tear it in half then to tear each half into 10 pieces as a way to build skill and confidence with tape. Darcie is also a big fan of having students make Automatas.
Abigail Adams inspired us by sharing her recent Black Knight project as an example of creating costumes with cardboard.
Abigail also suggested looking a using old book folding projects as a fun way to repurpose discarded books and textbooks. Who wouldn't love this hedgehodge in their maker space?
As to be expected, we always learn something new when the talented Maker, Educator, Artist Jill Dawson is in the room. Jill shared her recent work using Orizomegami - a paper folding and dying technique using Procion Cold Reactive Dyes.
For those who have not yet met Jill Dawson, check out this instagram post of one of her interactive books to see how effectively Jill uses her many talents in her paper projects. We know you'll immediately become a fan. Jill also has several past projects featured at Bling the Book.
We ended our session with "oohs and ahs' as Annette Gonye shared one of her latest creations with Water Colors.
Annette introduces kids and adults to water colors by offering them a 5X7 or 4X6 rectangle of good 140 lb paper. Who knew that cheap paper is hard to work with and one of the major reasons why people give up on watercolor painting! She also finds that ' Adults tend to be really afraid of large sheets of paper,"
She then offers some simple techniques to help them turn their water color into cards. Annette suggest this site as an easy place to get started.
Thank you to everyone who showed up for this week's monthly maker educator exchange. We learned so much from each other. i hope I have captured most of what was shared and look forward to next months's maker educator exchange.
Our next monthly maker educator exchange will be March 17.
The topic will be Making Media in your maker space or learning space.
Sign up here.