Kodo Founder to Discuss the Maker Movement in Early Childhood Education at SXSWedu

kodo to discuss the maker movement in early childhood education at SXSWedu

 

On March 8th, 2017, Kodo Kids Founder, Chris Hume, will be presenting on a panel at SXSWedu in Austin. We interviewed the creative mastermind behind nearly all of Kodo’s products to learn more about his participation, perspective, and what we can expect from the event.


Chris – thanks for taking the time to sit down for this interview! You’re always busy making and designing, so I’m glad I could catch you. Let’s start by talking about your involvement this year in SXSW.

I was invited to join as a guest on the panel for Fostering the Maker Movement in Early Childhood Education. Basically, there will be four of us talking about what a makerspace is all about in an early childhood setting. What the challenges are around implementing a makerspace, finding the appropriate materials, and what it might look like. You know, how does a makerspace work in the classroom, and how is the interaction with the children in that space different from any other place in the classroom? What does having a “makerspace” really mean? What opportunities does that open up for teachers and children?

 

And what perspective do you think that you bring to the panel that is unique or new compared to what people have heard before or what other people might be presenting?

Well my unique area of expertise is from the product development and supply side. I look at questions like – what does this actually look like? What are the materials that we’re supplying children? What does the environment look like? And what is the equipment that we’re using in that space? How do you use that equipment and what are you bringing to that space that allows a makerspace to occur? How is that different than any other classroom space? For example, how is that different from the block area? They’re constructing in the block area, aren’t they “making” in the block area? Well, kind of, but it’s taking that philosophy and applying it to a lot of different materials in a more focused way with the goal to create and tinker.

You really need to look at the history of the maker movement in general – what is the maker movement and what is at the heart of it? It began with a bunch of interested, passionate, nerdy people who were really into things – building things, crafting things, and solving problems that they had in their lives. These people explore hobbies and interests that they have in a very deep way, pulling parts and pieces together from wherever they can to create and to make to fulfill their interest. Take quadcopters, for example. There are all sorts of quadcopters now at makerfairs, and they’re pieced together from all sorts of different things. People are really pushing the limits of what a quadcopter is and how it’s built and what goes into it. People’s genuine interests are driving them to dig in, understand the details and create their own versions. So the maker movement is made up of all these little innovative groups in their specific areas of interest, which are driven by their personal passions, and they exemplify the maker mindset.

 

So clearly there’s a lot of information and a lot to think about around makerspaces. If people left with just one piece of information that stuck, what’s the big takeaway that you want them to bring back to their classrooms and programs?

I think people need to know that a makerspace is not a craft area. In fact, it’s not even an art area, and it’s not a science, technology, engineering, or math area either. It’s all of those things. It’s a space that incorporates all of those different specialties into an environment that’s very open for invention and new directions, for taking a project wherever it needs to go or wants to go. So, it’s not just art and it’s not just craft – we’re not just gluing popsicle sticks together in a makerspace. In a makerspace, we’re gluing popsicle sticks together in an artistic way to make a bridge that’s going to span from one side of the ravine to another – it’s going to solve a problem, and we’re looking at the structure of the bridge, and how do you make the best bridge? And what are all the technical things in that bridge that need to happen to make it go from one side to the other? So I think the main takeaway is to think broadly about tinkering and all the technical industries – science, technology, engineering, art, and math – how do you bring all those together in a very tangible way to create something that fulfills a need or solves a problem?

 

So a makerspace brings a lot more depth than just crafting!

Yes, a lot more depth than crafting! Even though, you know, craft is definitely a part of it – right? There are people making clothing and they’re crafting these clothes in very unique ways. For instance they’re integrating circuits into the patterns so in the dark they light up and flash enhancing the design of the outfit. There is all sorts of great nerdy things. That’s really what making is all about.

 

So, final question – there’s a lot of panels that happen at SXSW, a lot of presentations, and one person can’t go to all of them. So why would you tell people that they should attend Fostering the Maker Movement in Early Childhood Education?

This presentation is really going to speak to a specific crowd of people. Early childhood educators should absolutely attend. This is an up-and-coming focus for early childhood education. I truly believe this is the next iteration of STEM. So to be on the progressive side of education, if you’re in early childhood or even K-3, this will be a great panel to come to because we’ll be talking about many of the challenges of implementing this progressive idea in your classroom. If you’re interested in where the profession is going, or interested in doing something different in your classroom, or interested in doing something very effective in your classroom, then you should definitely attend this presentation.

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