The Ohio River Consortium: Maker Education at RMU

Yeah, at Robert Morris University and probably most teacher ed programs we try to connect theory with practice, and they get a lot of theory here, and the application piece they will get in the schools, but we also have a maker shop here on campus as well, so they can actually train and be prepared for when they go out to the schools. Well, we’re using the make shop in several ways now. We basically have it embedded into some of our methods courses. It used to be, not just science and math methods courses, but also into our social studies, on our literacy courses. Just a few weeks ago, I was talking about a classification activity with my early childhood special ed. certification students, and we came up here and actually did the activity, did the classification activity, they got to see it in different forms. We’re also using it as a layout, as an open layout, so that students, when they’re in pre-student teaching and student teaching, can come use our 3D printer, our laminator, our letterpress our materials, our woodworking equipment to bring those activities into their classrooms. We even have some cards we call mobile make shops that they can take into the schools. I think it’s really beneficial for our teachers to see the space in different formats. So, they come up here, we use the materials during classes sometimes. We also go to the Children’s Museum, we go to Avonworth School District, so they get to see how it can work and function in a variety of different environments, and I think that’s really important to them. You have to be able to problem-solve and determine what solutions are most applicable to the given situation, so I think maker-based learning really promotes that and engages that. It is not somebody giving you the answers, you have to come up with the answers on your own or with other students. The maker movement has been around for a while, but it really is a really interesting way of thinking about things and critical thinking, so I hope it gives them an edge as well when they’re out interviewing and they have a sort of different experience to bring to the table and bring to the school districts that hopefully at one point they’ll be hired by.

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