Maker Education

Posted by Erik Carlson on 10/18/2018

As you already know, this Sunday is one of the biggest events that our community puts on: the East Bay Mini Maker Faire. People from all parts of our school community lend a hand in making this event such a special day that fits so well with our program’s focus on maker-centered learning. We think of Makers as anyone who makes something, and in this spirit we welcome all those who come to our campus on Sunday as Makers! Following is a small snapshot of the ways our program and students have been involved in maker-centered learning, learning that focuses on community and collaboration as well as responsive and flexible teaching practices.


Preparing for the East Bay Mini Maker Faire:

  • Students 4th Grade and up have been processing wood for the Nerdy Derby booth using the compound miter saw and drill press. They have prepared 650 blanks for Nerdy Derby cars - that’s 1,200 holes drilled!

 Student using drill press  Student wood working


  • 1st Grade is making signs for the Nerdy Derby and students in a variety of grades are tidying and transforming the Innovation Workshop into the Nerdy Derby car building area!


  • The middle school elective has been prototyping automata--simple kinetic sculptures that use cams to create movement. Meanwhile, our students have engineered a supersized special automata for the Nerdy Derby - come see it at EBMMF; the engineering and problem solving featured are spectacular!!

                                                     Student using laser cutter


  • During the 8th grade science unit studying sound and vibration, students designed their own instrument. First they created a 2D graphic design and then used computer assisted tools to print out their prototypes. Some of our students will also present this work at the Educators Convening at EBMMF. Check out this video description of and reflection on the process by one of our 8th graders!


  • Park Day annually hosts an Educator Convening at the Faire. Last year 70 educators attended to discuss maker-centered learning, explore the faire. and reflect on applications in our own teaching practice. This year, Maker Ed is joining Park Day in sponsoring this event.


  • For the past three years, two Park Day teachers per year have participated in the Agency by Design Fellowship alongside other educators from Oakland Public Schools and in conjunction with Harvard University’s Project Zero.For more info about Maker-Centered Learning and Agency by Design (AbD) click here.


In other workshop news:


  • 2nd grade has just finished building Ancestry Boxes as part of their discussion about the history of immigration.They begin by putting themselves in someone else’s shoes and consider how when you’re leaving one country to live in a new country, you may not be able to bring many things with you. As the students study their own family history and current events in developmentally appropriate ways,  they acknowledge the differences between those who have a choice to leave their home and those who don’t.

2nd graders in workshop working on ancestry boxes  2nd graders using drill with teacher


  • 1st Grade is starting their Take Apart project, which is an exploration of design, engineering systems and human needs. The project integrates building, design and  math. Students use a Venn diagram to examine the use and properties of various materials used in the machine. The Starlight Kitties have made a robot to help the world solve some of its current problems. It can be programed to ask people what they need and help solve their unique community’s problem. The Golden Foxes will dive in to Take Apart after Maker Faire.

                                                                 1st graders taking apart a phone

  • Our youngest makers in Kindergarten are exploring identity and learning to use tools safely in the Innovation Workshop with their Identity Trains. They have been practicing hammering, sawing, and drilling with the power drill (assisted). Some have been working on some free building where they can design and prototype with some of their new skills with tools!

Coming soon to the Workshop:

  • 5th grade will be teaming with Ilya in the Workshop and Joe in Learning Garden to explore solar energy and thermal energy as a way to enhance and deepen their later Science studies on alternative energy.


  • In 6th grade, our Average 6th Grader project, which is an integrated project between mathematical and scientific data as well as exploration of identity and social studies, is kicking into gear!

Stay tuned for more exciting projects from the Innovation Workshop. We’ll keep you posted and see you at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire!