The room is abuzz with activity. A boy works his scissors with precision, his brow furrowed in concentration. What will his Cardboard Creation become? Time and effort will reveal his vision. Meanwhile, a girl across the way works on disassembling an electronic toy. She discovers secrets hidden inside that weave a tale of flow and connection. (Engineering and circuitry to you and me.)
Where can you find this wonderland of energy and creativity? At Bricolage Academy, where twice a week, students gather to build, break, and make.
Innovation Teacher Alex Owens leads his students through activities meant to instill a breadth of experiential STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) concepts all while inspiring a love of learning and curiosity.
We sat down with him to ask some questions about his class and his thoughts on what it means to be a maker.
Q: What is a Maker?
A: I think we too often complicate the word “maker.” It is exactly what it sounds like: someone – anyone – who makes something. I am constantly reminded of the simple, yet unbelievable power of that label with my elementary students. They do not need any credentials or training or wisdom to start making. They jump right in and make work that is extremely personal and a representation of their worlds. Isn’t that what all makers strive for?
Q: What is Innovation Class?
A: Innovation is where Bricolage students come to make, play, invent, and design creative solutions.
Q: Why does Bricolage offer Innovation Class?
A: Bricolage promotes Innovation across the school from student culture and ownership to classroom content. However, we wanted to provide a time and space to really focus on the mindsets, tools, and practices needed for students to critically think about diverse problems and to prototype new solutions.
Q: What is the most interesting project you’ve seen created in your class?
A: Just this week, Kindergartners were learning about electricity and specifically using coin batteries and led lights to create objects that light up. One student made a three-eyed alligator using plastic bottles, cardboard, and duct tape. All I taught her was how to build the simple circuit and she then created a whole new context, world, creation from that foundation.
Every week is filled with similar examples of kids taking learned materials and concepts and then building upon them to make their own personal creation.
New Orleans Mini Maker Faire is presented by Bricolage Academy. Visit their Innovation Booth at the Faire on April 22, 2017 from 10am-5pm at Delgado Community College (916 Navarre Ave).