Inspire students with “maker magic”

The school year is winding down fast, and students are becoming less enthusiastic about school work. But since it’s the National Week of Making, now is the perfect time to let students flex their creative muscles!

So, if you’re looking for some fun, hands-on projects to finish out the year, we’ve pulled together some great ideas to get you started. But, before we get to the cool stuff, let’s take a quick look at how “maker magic” can help reinvigorate student learning right now.

Projects that involve hands-on learning, like the Solar Boat, can help reinvigorate student learning.

By the numbers

Here’s what we already know—65 percent of kids entering primary school today will end up working jobs that don’t currently exist. This number, courtesy of the World Economic Forum, probably comes as no surprise to you. As a teacher, one of your biggest challenges is preparing students for that very unknown future, right? That’s where experiential learning comes in handy. It equips kids with crucial life skills now that will help them succeed later.

65 percent of kids entering primary school today will end up working jobs that don’t currently exist.

Why the “maker mentality” works

According to the National Inventors Hall of Fame, hands-on, personalized, experiential learning is the perfect way to create real-world applications for classroom concepts. Giving students the opportunity to be innovative and creative allows them to take in what they’ve learn in the classroom and apply it to real-world problems. This helps develop a clear understanding of what works and what doesn’t. When students learn to understand and accept failure as an opportunity rather than a barrier, the more likely they are to keep trying.

On top of building effective critical thinking and problem solving skills, hands-on learning also helps kids achieve a wider range of 21st century skills. Learning to effectively collaborate and adapt, while strengthening both oral and written communication skills, equips them with important tools they need to achieve successful careers.

Hands-on learning through making helps kids achieve a wider range of 21st century skills

Ready to get started? 

Having access to a makerspace at school certainly makes hands-on learning easier, but you don’t necessarily need one to get your students creating. Sometimes all you really need is a little inspiration and an open mind. So, if you’re ready to wrap up the year by making some cool stuff, check out some of our favorite kits, lesson plans and activities below. And, if you’d like to learn more, or get involved in the National Week of Making, visit NationalMakers.us now.

Strawbees® Maker Kit

The Strawbees® Maker Kit allows students to build, test, and modify large-scale mechanical structures with recyclable plastic connectors that are easily modified and super flexible. Designed for grades K-6.

Bristlebot STEM Project Kit

Students will build a small robot using a toothbrush head and googly eyes that will scurry along a flat surface. Adjust the balance and placement of the attachable pipe cleaners to change the way they move and behave with an easy-to-add vibrating motor.  Perfect for grades 3-12.

Solar Energy: Design and Engineer Lesson Plan

Students will build a solar-powered boat and while gaining an understanding of how energy is transferred from one energy source to another.

Solar Bottle Boat Kit

Designed for grades 5-12, this kit allows students to build three different solar-powered boats using recycled bottles.

Take a Breath – Modeling the Respiratory System Lesson Plan

With this lesson plan for grades 6-8, students will learn how to build a working model of the respiratory system.

Camera Obscura – Foam Board Pinhole Camera Lesson Plan

With this project, designed for grades 9-12, students will build a pinhole camera from scratch to learn how light and optics work together.

Design & Engineering: Invention with a Purpose Lesson Plan

In the Design & Engineering: Invention with a Purpose Lesson Plan, students will learn how new inventions are created, then make a sketch of their own invention and collaborate with other students to develop a prototype of a new invention. Perfect for grades 5-8.

More ways to inspire …

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