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The Making of Makers at Oakland Tech

It’s a great learning experience to tinker with peers in a familiar classroom, but when you have to build an invention end-to-end to display to thousands at a major event, it really stokes the fires of creativity.  These days, Techbridge girls at Oakland Tech are using the growing phenomenon of Maker Faire to take their STEM tinkering to a new level.

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Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of “makers,” which includes tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors.  Maker Faire takes place in three months and, with support from Cognizant, the Techbridge girls at Oakland Tech are hard at work on their projects.

Since September, these girls have studied electrical engineering, computer science, circuits, soldering and more.  Now all of these technical units are the building blocks for their Maker Faire projects, which include hacked alarm clocks, LED music boxes, "smart shoes" for easier directions, and more!   Maybe most important, the girls are making mistakes, overcoming challenges, working together, and taking risks-- learning life lessons that are just as foundational for “Making” as their hands-on skills.  

After attending the Mini-Maker Faire, the girls are excited about the chance to create their own project end to end. Techbridge student, Agodi, was inspired by the projects she saw  “I was really motivated after seeing the different age groups working on engineering projects -- and to have the opportunity to actually program something!"   

Program Coordinator, Ben, has been impressed with their advanced level of collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas. Agodi also commented that one of her favorite parts about the preparation for Maker Faire has been coming together as a group to choose a project and decide how it will work. In the coming weeks, Techbridge girls will go from brainstorm sessions to Making their ideas a reality.

As the girls continue to MAKE, the California Tinkering After-School Network, supported by the Exploratorium, is hard at work discovering best practices in after school programming related to tinkering and hands-on learining, and are partnering with Techbridge's Maker Class at Oakland Tech to learn about our programs and process. Stay tuned.

 

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