Weekend Maker Camp under Covid-19 conditions

Weekend Maker Camp
a.k.a. 48 Hour Tinkering-Monastery

Instead of writing a boring blog post, I asked a friend of mine to ask me some questions about my latest activities as a maker educator.

Claire: How did you come up with the idea of a 48 Hour Makercamp?

Mathias: We have a weekend and the weekend is from Friday afternoon till Monday morning. During this time the school is closed and the Makerspace is also closed but filled with possibilities.

Claire: What was the selection process for the boys who took part?

Mathias: I invited 5 boys from grades 7-10 and three decided to take part. These boys practically “live” in our schools’ Makerspace – even during normal school hours, every possibility they have they are to be found in the Lab or in the Workshop.

Claire: Did you have concrete projects that you had planned out ahead of time for these 48 hours?

Mathias: Just roughly. I wasn’t the one who did the planning, the boys had their own projects which were important for them.

Claire: What were the projects?

Mathias: The projects were roughly the ones seen in the film. Firstly, we completed the setup and initialization of our new DIY CNC router machine which we built together several months ago. Secondly, we built an add-on for our DIY cargo etrike so that our kindergardeners can ride along on outings. Thirdly, we dove deeply into 3D modeling.

Claire: Did the students need to pay for the camp?

Mathias: No. They are my students during the week anyway, the school is here and we don’t need to commercialize everything that we do. For me personally it was just two days of my spare time which I am happy to invest in such projects.

Claire: Did the students earn extra credit for the camp?

Mathias: No, it didn’t have anything to do with formal school subjects, grades or school reports. On the contrary, it would have ruined their and my intrinsic motivation, the relationship between me and them and it wouldn’t have been fair for the other students. But, actually these boys belong to the cool guys in the school despite they don’t earn excellent grades during standarized tests.

Claire: How did it work with personal distance and your relationships as students/teacher through 48 hours of living together?

Mathias: This wasn’t the first time that I’ve done something like this. I don’t see myself so much as a “teacher” rather as a “coach”. I have no problem with these settings. It’s about a mutually respectful relationship as individuals. Small barriers are of course important, for example, we sleep in separate rooms and so on but I believe it is also very possible to keep professional distance while also supporting real world learning environments. That is what Maker Education is about. As a teacher I don’t want obedience from the students, rather collaboration and making together is what it is all about.

Claire: Why did you choose to offer this during the Covid-19 Lockdown in Germany? What did you need to take into account?

Mathias: We each took a Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Test Friday afternoon which our school provides under special circumstances. I am also very grateful for the way in which our founder deals with the current lockdown situation. After the test, we built our own “contact bubble”. Coincidentally during the same weekend, the Handball World Championship in Egypt did the same thing, but ours worked.

Claire: Ha, ha…         It looked snowy in the film, is that normal for Germany?

Mathias: No at all for a long time. On Sunday morning when we woke up and looked out of the window, we were really surprised that it had snowed so much. Although the snow melted within two days, it was an exciting experience for the boys and I to scout out the empty school grounds.

Claire: Yes, it looked like a real winter wonderland! What a cool weekend adventure in January 2021 during the Covid-19 lockdown in Germany.

Mathias: Thanks for your interest, Claire!