This is a guest post by Elsa Rodriguez, Program Manager at Hive Chicago.
What are teens doing with their free time?
They create music, build Tumblrs, make fashion pieces, design and play games, and code, write, and build websites. They are exploring their passions, and in an age where sharing content is easy, they use their interests to engage with like-minded peers.
A ScenarioThe journey of one teen. From wearing fashion to making it.
In Chicago, a young person enters the Hive Fashion STEAMStudio, a program using technology and modeling to produce fashion pieces. They walk in for several reasons—it looked cool from the window, their girlfriend wanted them to check it out, the title “fashion” drew them in and they had an idea for design. Upon arrival they are welcomed and introduced to teens as well as mentors that are working on projects around technology and design. After watching a peer take an earring design from the computer and print a 3-D model, the teen is hooked and wants to know more. First, they dive into the world of design trends, possibly sharing with others or creating their own blog or Tumblr to host their most inspiring ideas. Through that process, a personal voice is revealed and a vision for a finished product begins to come to life. In order to this accomplish this goal the teen soon realizes that they will need to know more. Perhaps they will learn a little bit about measurement and apply some of their math skills. Perhaps they will learn the basics of woodworking or sharpen their 3-D printing skills in order to create a successful prototype.
At the intersection of personal interest —learning is happening. Youth are learning on their own, with peers, or with adult mentors. They learn the basics, then they level up, they get inspired and seek more knowledge and skills—while building community around their personal interest.
The question becomes —how can this “maker” culture be layered, accessed and used in our schools and as another way of teaching? How might we connect the academic content to that content learned by making? Equally important, in our digital age, is uncovering how we can build digital literacy in the classroom.