We can all imagine a world in the future full of technical marvels and improvements to quality of life. But who will design and build that future? Preparing our youth to be the creators of an amazing future is the focus of many education strategies, including:
- STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math): emphasis on knowledge, problem solving, engineering disciplines and process
- STEAM (STEM + “Arts”): STEM, with additional focus on creativity, design and exploration
- 21st Century Skills: core competencies for the modern workforce, especially creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and problem solving
- Computational thinking, digital literacy, technical literacy: preparing students to be able to use current and future technology to solve real-world problems
- Project-based learning: adding hands-on projects to STEM curriculum to increase effectiveness and engagement
- Makerspace education: hands-on creative experiential learning to build functional technical literacy on top of a STEAM base
Clearly, there’s a lot going on in education today! While some may see some of this as fads that come and go, we believe things are moving quickly and that tremendous and important opportunities are emerging. That’s why we focus on elements of STEM and STEAM education each year, and offer Houston Mini Maker Faire as the best showcase of makerspace education available in Texas.
Think of Maker Faire as a smorgasbord or buffet, full of interesting options and choices. The information and experiences at Houston Mini Maker Faire can give you better insight into what to invest your valuable time and money into, to achieve your objectives for education. This is useful both for parents who are confronted with so many options for kits, after-school classes, camps and so on — and for teachers, librarians and administrators trying to make informed decisions about how to best set up a makerspace or similar at their facility, and what programs and experiences to use to increase the impact of STEM education.
And what’s really impressive about Houston Mini Maker Faire is the scale and variety of exhibits. Here are just a few examples (click here for more info):
- Learn about drones. What’s their potential for STEM education?
- Are there practical applications of VR for education? We will have real-world examples of VR that you may not have even heard of yet, but need to know about. (Stay tuned for the big announcements here.)
- Robotics: we continue our “tradition” of exhibiting the widest variety of robotics in Texas, with many new examples and kits you can learn about. Find out how to get involved as a teacher or a parent, and learn about the huge things happening in educational robotics in Texas.
- New topical areas, such as Health Tech and Urban Gardening/Hyperlocal Food Sourcing/Aquaponics will be there, with many interesting opportunities for education content and activities.
- IDEAS startup pitch competition: how do we help students act on their ideas to create new businesses and make the world a better place? This real event by HCC will model how to make this happen (sign up now to get involved).
- Power Up Houston Hackathon: a hackathon is a great way to get students active and focused on real-world creativity and solutions. Participate, or observe and see the magic happen live!
- Learn about tech and creativity components you can add into curriculum to promote technical literacy, STEM and STEAM: Arduino, Raspberry Pi, 3D printing, IoT (Internet of Things), wearables, sewing, new science demos, kits, crafts, e-textiles, and more. In many cases you can try them out, right at Maker Faire!
One thing that’s very unique about Maker Faire is that it’s more about showing and sharing than selling. Yes, there are a few quality vendors there that you can purchase items from if desired, but you never have to worry about “arm twisting” and high-pressure sales tactics. In most cases, you can talk to the expert — the person who actually did the work — right there at the event! And of course, Houston Mini Maker Faire is about much more than STEM education — you could easily find great highly-useful ideas built by an artist or innovator who wasn’t even thinking about education impact at the time! So put your “explorer hat” on and come out and see how all these bright minds have put together examples of creativity, education and inspiration!