This weekend will mark the 7th year of Maker Faire in the Bay Area, with over 100,000 attending to build stuff and learn by building stuff. For me, one of the more gratifying sights at the recent USA Science and Engineering Festival was the plethora of people splayed out on the floor of the convention center making stuff. Hands-on technology education helps people understand technology in a fundamentally different way that reading years of WIRED and Popular Mechanics will.
Amidst the various panels (of wood, fiberboard and people) and soldering will be the launch of the Maker Education Initiative, which drew the notice of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (they consider it a natural extension of what stuff like the White House Science Fair wants to encourage). The program’s main goal is to support the development and expansion of places and programs for children and teens to be makers. This appears to be a more comprehensive program than the Young Makers, which works to connect interested young makers with mentors and fabricators that can share their knowledge. The Initiative seems well suited to expanding local maker club efforts across the country.
Given the innovation lore surrounding some companies made in basements and garages, I think this project ought to gather a legion of support and supporters. If you’re interested in generating some local maker magic, sign up at the website and look for a local Maker Faire.