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The Making of a Maker

When I imagine myself as a Maker in a maker space, I picture a garage full of gadgets and gizmos and I am the creative genius who puts things together in strange and beautiful ways—creating works of art and radical inventions.

I’ll be the first to admit though, as much as I find Makers fascinating, I also find the idea of becoming a Maker very intimidating. Every Maker I’ve ever met has been super friendly and encouraging, but I worry that they have a different knowledge and skill set from someone like me.

I worry that I’d just be getting in the way, if I spontaneously showed up in a maker space and tried to start working on a project—and I’m an adult who works in a science museum! I can only imagine that it’s an even more mysterious world if you’re in grade 7 or 8!

That’s why Science World has come up with a new pilot program, Project DIY, which aims to make the Maker movement more approachable. I took some time to do a quick interview with Catherine Anderson, the program developer for this new initiative, to find out more.

What’s so great about being a Maker?

CA: It’s fun! You get to tap into your creativity and find new ways to solve old problems. It lets you develop your skills for the future, especially some skills that many people don’t think about—like being a problem solver. People that are great at problem solving are better suited for future challenges, especially unexpected ones.

Why Project DIY?

CA: The whole concept of the program is that it can act as a stepping stone to introduce young teenagers to the Maker community. If they really want to make or invent something, but don’t have the fundamental skills, we can help with that. If they have some making skills but maybe just need to find a project to become passionate about, we can help there too.

Not only will the participants get to develop a range of skills from carpentry to coding, but they’ll also get to meet and work alongside adult Makers. Our guest Makers are looking forward to sharing their expertise and collaborating on new projects. 

Project DIY is a place to experiment and discover things you’re good at and things you’re not so good at. That’s another really important thing that people don’t often think about. With Project DIY, we really want to create a safe environment for failure, too. We want participants to engage in fun challenges and make mistakes. Learning how to fail and how to overcome disappointment is so valuable. It’s a skill we all have to develop for the many real-world problems we face.

What are you most excited about for the program?

CA: I want to find more of my people! I'm looking forward to hanging out with both teens and adults who are fascinated by unique challenges and love to be creative with their hands. Project DIY will be a blast, not just because of the opportunity to learn more skills, but also because of the chance to meet like-minded people with similar interests.

If other Science World programs (Future Science Leaders, for example) are any indication, the best part of the Project DIY experience will come from interactions between participants as they work on a challenge together—brainstorming and building off each other’s ideas to come up with a solution that each individual couldn’t have come up with on their own. When that happens, it’s the most amazing thing!
 

If you’re interested in Project DIY, you can learn more about the program here. Registration is now open for young women ages 12–15 for the pilot run of the initiative.