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#SXSWEdu: Making makers: From Guatemala to the world

2 min read


“Curiosity is wired into our DNA,” said Adrian Catalan, professor at Galileo University in Guatemala. Catalan presented with Ceci Castillo, of Girls@Tech Guatemala,  at a SXSWEdu Playground Talk session, “Making makers: From Guatemala to the World.”

Educators have the chance to make makers, according to Catalan. “Kids have all this energy,” he said. “They just need tools to make.”

Castillo and Catalan highlighted four lessons they learned from maker programs they’ve launched with schools and their communities.

Jump in and get started. It doesn’t matter what you have – how much or how little, said Catalan. What matters, he said, is that you dive in and start creating. “If you have tools, put them to work and build something,” he urged. “What is important is that you do something with whatever you have.”

Start small. It’s tempting to want to do everything at once, said Castillo, but that can overwhelm participants and deflate enthusiasm. She advises teachers to have students begin by making small deliverables and let the project grow naturally from there. “Starting small enables you to start faster,” she explained.

Failure is necessary. Maker projects are great fun but students will run into snags, which may discourage some. Encourage them to persevere. Teach them to iterate, correct mistakes and start again. Students must learn to accept failure as part of the process, said Castillo. “You must be willing to fail,” she stated. “It will make you stronger and build your character.”

Build for yourself. Let students build devices, games, and projects for their own use. Don’t look to create a solution to be sold to a mass market. This can overwhelm and discourage students. Catalan had students build video games – Tetris, Pong, tic-tac-toe – for their own use. Emphasizing this can increase students’ enjoyment of the process and final result. “They were really joyful and grateful about being able to make games and it’s because it’s for them,” stated Catalan.

We are makers by nature, according to Castillo. Encourage your students to step out of their comfort zones, get their hands dirty and have fun creating.

“The world is inviting us to play,” said Castillo. “Roll up your sleeves and start making.”