I love the “All of Us Are Makers” image above. Both the message and the sculpture are simple, honest, and relatable. This battery bot is awesome – the LEDs for eyes, powered by the battery-body, and some coated copper wire for limbs. I love that this is such a simple design. Anyone can make their own robots with inexpensive materials, a little know-how, and time.

These next sculptures, on the other hand, use more expensive materials, a fair bit of know-how, and a lot more time. I saw these sculptures and their creator, Tik Tok Tom, at the Ottawa Maker Faire in November of 2015. Tom, too, liked sculpture and robots – but he wanted to do more than battery bots – so he made industrial parts connections, took a welding course, and studied composition elements to make his work pop.

I’m going to make these makespiration (maker inspiration) posts a regular feature for a few reasons: 1) I really dig what people can and will do with their talents; and 2) To convince you that embracing the maker movement as a teacher is really quite simple. Expose your students to what’s out there in the world of making – all the time. Whether it’s design, art, meeting a challenge, or just filling time – it’s all worth while.

In leading discussions on maker education for school professional development sessions, participating in twitter chats (@SPGiesbrecht), or just chatting about my passion – the question of “how do I start making in my classroom?” comes up. My answers tend to be the same: share what you love, ask students to share what they love, and try something that meets somewhere in the middle.

Making robots out of recycled, discarded, junk, or scrap materials is simple, inexpensive, and fun. Everyone can do it in their classrooms. You can choose whether or not you connect this maker activity to curricular outcomes – but know that the experience itself is good enough. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Science – you can create a classification system for your robots, and compare that process to other classification systems used in the Sciences;
  • Language Arts – can use the robots as inspiration for a creative writing piece; and
  • Social Studies – use the robots in a stop-action video re-creating a historical event… or whatever else your cool mind comes up with.

Once you do a few of these makesplorations as a class, students will start seeking out their own maker activities. There’s a ton of YouTube channels devoted to making (for all ages), there are great sites like Instructables and MAKEZine, not to mention Pinterest boards, Etsy shops, and everything in between. Once you provide the initial inspiration, your students will do the leg work right along with you. It’s fun and engaging for everyone involved.