Behind the Scenes: NoVa Maker Educator Meetup

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I’m very excited to announce the NoVa Maker Educator Meetup at Maker Faire NoVa on March 19, 2017. Details about the event are available at https://designmaketeach.com/2017/01/26/319-nova-maker-educator-meetup/

The original idea was sparked during a conversation at the FabLearn conference in Stanford, California last October. I met two maker educator from the Flint Hill School, Joey Starnes @joeygstarnes and Sarah Magner @peacefulpendant. We were introduced virtually by 2014 FabLearn Fellow and former Flint Hill maker guru Andrew Carle @tieandjeans. During the conversation, we realized the need to establish a support network for maker educators in our region. One of the challenges was connecting maker educators from public, private and informal education environments. A meetup needed to be on neutral ground so that everyone would feel welcome. Local universities were a possibility but we weren’t aware of any specific maker programs in the education departments. We thought that NoVa Maker Faire would be the best option for bringing everyone together.

I put in a proposal for a Maker Educator Meetup. The NoVa Maker Faire organizers were excited by the idea and and a team including Jeanne Marshall and Jeanne Loveland met at my school makerspace for a planning meeting. We were met by a representative from my school division Nick Grzeda @NickGrzeda. The NoVa Maker Faire team took my initial proposal for a short presentation and networking opportunity and ran with it. The NoVa Maker Educator Meetup is now a full two hour event with speakers representing the full range of maker educators. It kicks off an hour before the fair starts so that educators have an opportunity to attend the meetup and still have time to enjoy all the faire has to offer. Faire tickets are even 50% off for meetup participants. Nick arranged with my school district to offer professional development points for attendees and is contacting the state board of education to increase awareness and support for the event.

Local community makerspaces, NoVa Labs and Makersmiths are interested in helping host future maker educator meetups throughout the year.

The NoVa Maker Educator Meetup is one example of strategies to help scale up Maker Education to reach more students. I wrote about some other ideas at https://designmaketeach.com/2017/01/20/how-do-we-scale-up-makered/

Please share your successes and suggestions for creating and sustaining supportive networks of maker educators by leaving a comment or contacting me on Twitter @DesignMakeTeach or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DesignMakeTeach/