Celebrate the culture and act of innovation and invention as part of the 2016 National Week of Making June 17–23.
Maker culture marks the creative intersection between technology and artistry, between craft and engineering, between design and science, and between self-sufficiency and cooperation. It is a movement that embodies a belief in individuals sharing resources, from open-source software to collaborative learning spaces and communal tools to crowdfunding as a means of covering costs, helping to democratize the creative and manufacturing processes. It combines Do-It-Yourself crafters with programmers and tech-geeks and small business owners.
Makers may utilize building blocks and cardboard to come up with invention prototypes, wield laser cutters to create jewelry, or write code that enables them to build robots. The most successful makers have created everything from Square, the device that can plug into a mobile device to enable portable credit card processing, to 3-D-printed prosthetic limbs to smart watches to toys developed to encourage girls' interest in engineering.
In last year's presidential proclamation about the National Week of Making, President Barack Obama wrote, "During National Week of Making, we celebrate the tinkerers and dreamers whose talent and drive have brought new ideas to life, and we recommit to cultivating the next generation of problem solvers." He added, "This week, let us renew our resolve to harness the potential of our time—the technology, opportunity, and talent of our people—and empower all of today's thinkers, makers, and dreamers." Concluding the proclamation, he called upon "all Americans to observe this week with programs, ceremonies, and activities that encourage a new generation of makers and manufacturers to share their talents and hone their skills."
Want to get involved in sharing your talents or honing your skills during the National Week of Making and beyond? Here are some suggestions:
- Learn how to code, one of the fundamental building blocks of the maker movement.
- Hold or attend a maker event: Maker festivals, events, labs, and creative spaces exist all over the country in various sizes and shapes. The National Maker Faire will be held in Washington, D.C., June 18–19 as part of the National Week of Making.
- Commit to supporting these innovators by working to add maker spaces and/or hacker spaces (think life hacks, rather than someone stealing your identity) to your local schools, libraries, and community centers; by volunteering to work with students interested in maker culture; and by encouraging hands-on, informal learning, and interaction with technology like 3-D printers, laser cutters, and more. The Career and Technical Education (CTE) Makeover Challenge offers prizes to high schools who create more maker spaces, and Digital Promise and Maker Ed have combined to outfit K–12 schools with maker-friendly resources through their Maker Promise.