'Maker Movement' a Part of Innovative Learning

Oct 29, 2013

Left to Right, Austin Jeffries, Wesley Holt, and Chris Fuchs
Credit Amanda Nelson / University of Kentucky College of Education

Educators looking for ways of breaking away from traditional teaching methods gathered in Lexington Tuesday.    The "Innovate to Learn Institute" focused on investigating new learning techniques.  Some teachers working to generate interest among their students are turning to the so called ‘maker movement.’  It’s a method of learning through building.

  Pat Trodder is a project manager in the State Department of Education’s Division of Innovation. 

“It’s going back, I think, to our American roots where we used to tinker in our garages with our grandparents.  We used to make things.  And we’ve gotten away from that now, especially in the schools.  The kids just sit,” said Trodder.

At a mini ‘Maker Faire’ in Louisville recently, participants focused on working with three-D printers, arts and crafts, eye glasses,  and engineering products.

Trodder says innovative teaching methods are under consideration as some school districts try to move away from funding based on the number of students who fill classroom seats.

“We have a lot of our districts that are saying, ‘why do you just tell me I have this much money for that child and let me do what I need to do for that kid to learn the best that they can.  So, the shift is starting to occur,” added Trodder.

Trodder helped coordinate the ‘Innovate to Learn Institute'  where three high school students from Scott County worked on two separate robots at an exhibit table.  Senior Wesley Holt says his robot operates through a breathing mechanism.

“I was thinking about quadriplegics who are in wheel chairs who don’t have any use of their limbs and the only thing they have control over is their breath so, the design was to try figure out a robot that would be controlled by breathing in and out,” said Holt.  

Fellow high schoolers Chris Fuchs and Austin Jeffries were working on anther robot, aiming for competition in November.  Pat Trodder, meanwhile, says employers continue to look for problem solvers and people with presentation skills.