Blog: Bright Ideas

The Maker Movement - Fun Summer Activities for Kids

There’s a change taking place in schools and public libraries all over the country. Much like the one that occurred thirty years ago when bookshelves were rearranged to introduce more room for computers, libraries are now making room for makerspaces. From preschool classrooms to university design studios, creativity is being prioritized and celebrated. Outside of classrooms, too, communities are allocating collaborative space for ideas to flourish.

Why has this trend become a national movement? STEM-inspired and arts-integrated, the Maker Movement celebrates human ingenuity; it encourages and nurtures creativity while supporting progress and innovation. Lots of people have problems to solve, including engineers, doctors, teachers, parents and students. The Maker Movement is about empowering people— including kids—to use their energy and talents to create solutions. As summer approaches, imagine all the wonderful, fun summer activities the Maker Movement can inspire in your kids.

Understanding The Language

Young kids are prolific scavengers and creators of detailed projects. They love to create things with found materials; they learn through open-ended play. To put these activities in context, think about how they occur. Cate Heroman, author of Making & Tinkering With STEM, defines some important terms:

  • Tinkering - exploring the properties of materials and the capabilities of tools (using stuff)
  • Making - creating something (using stuff to make stuff)
  • Engineering - creating something that has a purpose (using stuff to make stuff that does stuff)

Given access to tools and materials and time to tinker, kids are gaining valuable experience. When empowered to take risks, they learn to trust in their creative potential and have confidence in their ideas. Whether building with blocks (construction) or taking apart electronic devices (deconstruction) in a breaker space, kids are finding opportunities to see themselves as explorers and creators.

Technology Enhanced Making

The Maker Movement includes artisans and craftspeople, but also engineers and inventors. Technology innovation is both a result of the movement and a force propelling it forward. The Internet has influenced the Maker Movement by expanding communication and e-commerce capabilities immeasurably. Once limited to selling their goods in consignment shops, flea markets or door-to-door, modern marketplace websites, like Etsy, now provide a platform for makers and inventors to sell their products globally. YouTube has given a voice to DIYers who have a process, a product or a talent to share. And the 3-D printer has put the power to manufacture unique goods into the average person’s hands.

Galileo Summer Quest camper tinkering with a motorize car.

Makerspace At Summer Camp

With such a fertile environment for the generation and proliferation of kids’ ideas, innovation summer camps offer a wealth of opportunities to keep them occupied. Camp provides lots of design challenges for kids in a safe and stimulating environment. Armed with tools and materials, they are guided to ask questions, set goals and rapidly prototype. These programs motivate kids by:

  • Encouraging curiosity and nurturing creativity — in the Galileo Makers: Materials Challenge theme, campers apply art and engineering to a single material supply, such as cardboard, tissue paper or Duck Tape®,  to design inspired and useful inventions.
  • Providing for and supporting collaboration — a major like Mystery Room supports teams of campers as they work to develop clues and interactive objects that lead players to a logical solution. 
  • Teaching a process for problem-solving that highlights failures as steps to success — in a major like Robot Pets, campers entering 5th - 8th grades program use corrugated plastic and Arduino-type microprocessors to give life to a robotic animal. Sometimes these creatures take a little fine-tuning, and kids work through the process of troubleshooting and solving programming issues.
  • Establishing a mindset that bolsters confidence and emboldens risk-taking — in 3-D Modeling & Printing, kids use the latest in printing technology as they model their own design, then experience the satisfaction of watching it take shape.

Through each of these challenges, campers begin to see themselves as visionary innovators capable of the determination required to make a difference in the world. 

Fun Summer Activities Build Resilience For Kids

Technology fosters innovation but human ingenuity powers it. With makerspaces opening and thriving across the country, we are creating a culture that values innovation and empowers ideas. This boosts kids’ creativity, by providing time for them to tinker and permission to fail and try again. What starts as fun summer activities becomes a powerful learning opportunity that banishes fear of failure. Given the tools, the encouragement and the space to work at summer camp, kids will have fun solving their own problems, and gaining confidence to tackle bigger issues someday.

Check out all the options for makerspace fun at a Galileo camp in your area: San Francisco, Southern California, and Chicagoland. Sign up for our mailing list to keep up-to-date on our camp happenings and innovation resources. Or, you can register for camp today.