An open letter to President Obama on the importance of MakerSpace education

The following letter was sent to President Obama this week in support of the MakerSpace movement and the importance of kids being kids… and learning.  It was written in conjunction with AASA and the US Department of Education. For those Superintendents that have signed the Future Ready pledge, this is the second most important document to sign following the pledge.

May 30, 2015

The President

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC, 20500

Dear President Obama, 

All children are born makers. They look at the world with a sense of wonder. They tinker and discover. They take things apart to question how they work. They build amazing things using any materials within reach. And they solve problems – for someone in their community or halfway around the world. Inherently curious and creative, children are naturally drawn to making as a way to explore the world around them. 

As leaders in education, we are excited about the growing Maker Movement and its potential to transform the way our students learn. An open-ended process of creating, making includes a wide spectrum of activities – from building furniture to growing a community garden, from upcycling to coding, and so much more. Making involves utilizing the design process, learning to use tools and materials, as well as documenting projects and sharing them with others. These experiences challenge young people to combine critical thinking, imagination, and persistence to solve complex problems – with the ultimate goal of students seeing themselves as producers, not just consumers of the world around them.

By focusing on personalized, interdisciplinary learning experiences that are student centered, making can motivate and inspire young people to develop a deep and lifelong engagement in, and love for, learning. We believe this approach not only improves their academic performance, but also prepares students with core skills for careers in any field – particularly in science, technology, engineering, design, advanced manufacturing, and entrepreneurship. While making is not a new concept in education, with a growing community of supportive educators, leaders, and families, we now have an unprecedented opportunity to move this idea forward in classrooms and schools across the country. 

Last year, you hosted the first White House Maker Faire and challenged “every company, every college, every community, every citizen [to] join us as we lift up makers and builders and doers across the country.” We couldn’t agree more. We must ensure that all of our children have access to these opportunities. We need an “all hands on deck” effort from school leaders, teachers, parents, skilled volunteers, companies, and more – to broaden participation in making, tinkering and inventing. As school administrators – superintendents, heads of school, district leaders, principals, and others – we want to do our part to make the most of these opportunities. 

As the White House prepares to celebrate a Week of Making this year, we are committed to getting started or to continue our efforts by taking  the following steps: 

• Invest in the creation of and staffing for a dedicated makerspace for use by teachers, students, and the wider community;

• Identify a champion or lead educator at each school who supports all teachers with the integration of making into the curriculum; 

• Offer professional development opportunities and follow-up support for teachers in our schools or districts to integrate making into the current curriculum; 

• Empower students to do capstone maker projects and showcase the process of their work through activities like School Maker Faires and shared portfolios; 

• Develop and implement strategies to engage all learners in making and diversify the pool of future innovators; 

• Develop strategies to allow older students to engage in peer mentoring for younger makers; and

 • Engage our parents and community members to support these efforts and to create a vibrant maker ecosystem. 

Thank you for your leadership. We look forward to working with you and your Administration to make this initiative a huge success.

Jason M. Eitner

Superintendent

The Lower Alloways Creek School District

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