by Mallory Nagy
The makers of tomorrow get the hands-on experience testing an iPhone robot that specializes in facial expression mirroring at Maker Faire 2012. (photo via PC Mag).
Long before 3D printers, the inventors of the world set out with the simple goal to create, to make something out seemingly nothing. Innovator extradoinare Leonardo da Vinci once said, “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
The Maker Movement is by driven by a shared passion for using technology to actively create. Highlighting the idea that everyone is a maker, these four initiatives help make “making” accessible to all.
1. Cognizant “Making the Future”: With the motto “Today’s inspiration is tomorrow innovation,” Cognizant provides an array of resources to aspiring makers through the Making the Future program. Launched just last year at New York’s World Maker Faire, this campaign has already made an impact amongst makers through funding after school and summer school programs. Fighting declining interest in STEM related fields, Making The Future helps undergraduates pursuing these science, technology, engineering, and mathematics degrees by awarding $5000 scholarships. Visitors to the New York Science Hall can even stop by the Cognizant Maker Space for some hands-on fun. This campaign continues to grow to match the unparalleled spirit of innovation spreading through youth with 2013 plans, including doubling the number of school programs and awarding scholarships to a greater number of recipients.
2. HacKIDemia: A blend of hacking, kids, and academia in both name and purpose, HacKIDemia is a global initiative committed to providing resources to expand the Maker Movement. Started as a two-year experiment at the University of Washington, this program aims to help consumers become creators. HacKIDemia stresses the importance of encouraging those in nontechnical fields to embrace makerism. From recycled plastic projects in Bucharest to the creation of a permanent invention lab in Nigeria, communities of innovation are started by HacKIDemia, and sustained by the creativity of the citizens within.
3. Techbridge: According to research conducted by the Center for the Study of the Workplace, only 11% of today’s engineers are women. Fortunately Techbridge is working to change that. With a doctorate in special education from the University of California Berkeley and a passion for inspiring the next generation of women, Linda Kekelis helps girls blossom in STEM fields with the Techbridge program. This Oakland based, female-focused initiative provides resources specifically targeted at the underrepresented demographic. Inspiring over 5,000 girls spanning between the grades 5-12, Techbridge provides girls with invaluable knowledge and role models. Mentors, who hail from prestigious companies such as Google, Pixar Animation Studios, and LeapFrog, are able to provide career advice to the girls, helping position them as the leaders of tomorrow.
4. Ace Monster Toys Hacker Scouts: Kids can “be prepared” for some exciting technological tinkering with the Hacker Scouts program presented by Ace Monster Toys. The makers of tomorrow, children ages 8-14, gather together to form a community of innovators every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month. Launched in September, Oakland youngsters have already had the chance to create self-sustaining biospheres and hydraulic judo bots. Open Lab is a free opportunity to try one’s hand at making, with the option of participating in guided projects or creating one’s own. Hacker Scouts is completely interactive, and encourages parents to get involved in their children’s creativity. Hacker Scouts was created by Chris and Samantha Cook, the proud parents of a Maker family.
As makerism gains momentum, the power of creativity can be fully tapped into. This power can be seen in GameDesk programs such as Dream Lab, which brings teachers and students together to dream up creative curriculum that fuses, technology, play and making. With new initiatives now bridging the gap between novice and professionals, everyone has the potential to be a maker. And, it is through the merger of technology and education that we come to understand life is what we make of it.