CREATIVITY AND COMMUNITY

We dream in solitude, but opening spaces for creative collaboration may help us — as individuals, organizations and communities — realize the full potential of our dreams.

This idea is the foundation of a popular Maker Movement that is gaining global attention for its merging of old-style “tinkering” with emerging technology systems.

“The future economic and social landscape [will be] shaped by the Maker Movement.”

“We will for the first time be able to truly ‘race with the machine,’ harnessing the power of the machine to unleash and amplify our creative energies,” according to Impact of the Maker Movement, a 2013 report that suggests the movement could radically change manufacturing and retail industries as well as education and public policy.

The report predicts that “the future economic and social landscape [will be] shaped by the Maker Movement” and that “collaborative production will define the future of work.”

Pennsylvania College of Technology faculty see an opportunity to use maker spaces to help students relate the theories they learn in classes with projects they can enjoy making on their own.

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Lauren Rhodes touring Bucknell maker space

The ability to have an idea – even though you have no idea how to make it happen – to be able to walk in and maybe meet other people who could help you make it happen,” excites math teacher Lauren Rhodes.

She and other Penn College faculty and administrators visited Bucknell University to get an idea of how faculty there are encouraging student participation in the maker movement.

Nathan P. Siegel, Ph.D., P.E., assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Bucknell, helped to arrange a tour of the university’s facilities and invited our cameras to film the tour and a student event in the maker space. Thank you, Nathan!

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Nathan P. Siegel

Bucknell was recognized as a national leader in promoting the maker culture in 2014, when members of the engineering faculty were invited to take part in the first White House Maker Faire.

The Bucknell Makers website calls the campus movement “an expression of the liberal arts at Bucknell – taking technology, culture, environment and aesthetics, and bringing it all together to create something of value uniquely your own.”

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Siegel leads Penn College faculty tour at Bucknell University maker space

I am excited to see Penn College and Bucknell University – higher education institutions with different missions – are on the same page when it comes to appreciating the connections between expanding the mind and engaging the body in hands-on activities.

Working Class: Dream and Do featured video filmed in the Bucknell maker space. The documentary, produced by Penn College and WVIA Public Media, gave viewers an opportunity to see that the two central Pennsylvania campuses, less than 25 miles apart, share a desire to connect students with the maker movement.

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Siegel and students explore ideas in maker space

A Penn College faculty roundtable discussion now available for viewing online also explored the movement’s blending of physical “making” with academic learning.

“It seems like sometimes students are stereotyped,” said Rob Wozniak, associate professor of architectural technology. “‘No, that’s not for you. You can’t do that.’ Who says? Who says I can’t do that?”

“Who says? Who says I can’t do that?”

Encouraging students of all ages to pursue a wide variety interests within a community of “doers” — in home workshops and public maker spaces — can help them make connections between theories and application. That kind of learning can be a foundation for success in the workplace.

Andrea McDonough Varner, art department coordinator in the Williamsport Area School District, said the movement can help build “stronger thinkers and better designers” that can “really push industries forward.”

“It’s connecting, it’s collaborating, it’s interacting,” she said.

In maker spaces, we have the opportunity to build communities of dreamers and doers who can lead the next wave of innovation and introduce works of art that impact individuals and societies.

Now it is up to us to find spaces — in our homes, schools, public buildings, and workplaces — where we encourage creativity. The movement needs us to do our part, to make a difference.

 

 

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