Why bother with a Maker Faire?

Last week I had the pleasure to be invited to a Maker Faire at Pacific Heights. Makerfaire.com defines such an event as “the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement.”

The event at Pacific Heights was a school-wide celebration of the “making” that I know is an on-going part of learning at the school. The Maker Faire was busy and it was messy. One might step back and ask, “Why would I bother with a Maker Faire?”



But at the end of the day, I left the school thinking to myself, “That was good learning.” Why?

Strong connections to the core competencies.

Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 6.13.24 PM

Much gets said about the core competencies and how students are to self-assess these competencies. Truth is, we can’t really expect the process of self-assessment to be remotely meaningful unless we engage students in learning experiences that activate the core competencies.

So without saying too much, it might be better to consider the following questions:

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 3.45.07 PMWhat core competency is being activated when students need to explain their thinking, processes, successes, challenges, and next steps when a parent, principal, teacher, visitor, or peer asks?

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 3.45.07 PMWhat core competency is being activated when students are asked to consider problems that need to be addressed through the design process, when students come up with novel ideas, or when students see an idea, adapt and refine it, and make it better?

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 3.45.07 PMWhat core competency is being activated when students are required to work collaboratively in order to achieve a goal or share materials?


Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 3.45.07 PMWhat core competency is being activated when students have choice over their learning and are asked to apply their strengths while at the same time knowing what areas they require support?

In what ways do you intentionally design learning opportunity that you know will activate the core competencies?

The ADST curriculum is brought to life.

At a recent workshop, I innocently asked a teacher if he thought his student’s parents understood what ADST was? His look went from “Sure they do” to “I think they do” to “Hmmm, I’m not sure.” This is by no means a criticism, but rather the reality that we use a great deal of specialized language in education and we just LOVE acronyms.

ADST refers to Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies and as a formal learning area, it is relatively new to the BC Curriculum. But make no mistake, where good learning has been happening in the past, the important aspects of the ADST curriculum has been happening all along. The BC Ministry of Education describes ADST as the ability to design and make, acquire needs skills, and apply appropriate technologies. Emphasis is placed on experiential, hands-on learning focused on design and creation, fostering the development of skills and knowledge that will allow students to create practical and innovative responses to everyday needs and problems.

How do you integrate design thinking and making in your classroom or school?

Opening Doors

An under-appreciated but extremely powerful aspect of communicating student learning is “opening doors” which specifically means inviting parents into schools and classrooms to actually participate in the same learning their child experiences. Unless schools are intentional about “opening doors” to parents, many parents will continue to believe that their child’s educational experience is much like their own. For most parents and students, nothing could be further from the truth. If done purposefully, “opening doors” not only places value parents as supporters of learning, but also informs parents on BC’s curriculum, the meaning of the core competencies, and their child’s interactions with teachers and peers. A Maker Faire is but one way for teachers and principals to  “open doors”.

How else do you promote this important aspect of CSL at your school or in your classroom?


When a Korean delegation recently visited a BC school district, the group was asked, “Students in the Korean education system do so well already. Why your interest in BC?” Their response was simple – they were interested in how they could achieve both student success and also joy in learning.

Joy – there seems to be a shortage of it in the world and in schools. While it’s true that the majority of students in Surrey do very well academically, I wonder why 60% of secondary school students surveyed report being disengaged? (Surrey Schools Ideas36 student research)

I believe that joy comes from the realization that you are doing work that has personal meaning, addresses real problems, and that connects students to their passions and curiosities. We would never consider asking an adult to engage in meaningless work. I wonder if we treat students the same way?

As I walked the hallways and meandered through classrooms, yes I saw the ADST curriculum, the core competencies coming to life, and parents, students and teachers working together. But I would dare say I witnessed joy in learning!

Do students in your school or class regularly experience joy in learning? How do you know? What leads to this joy?



So while events like a Maker Faire may push you out of your comfort zone in terms of neatness, control, and certainty and get you thinking, “Why would I ever consider holding such an event?” the better question to ask after thinking about the points made above might be,

“Why would you NOT consider running a Maker Faire in your school or classroom?”

Special thanks to Pacific Heights principal Sundeep Chohan and her wonderful and talented staff for opening their doors to me!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s