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Using Design Thinking to make a difference for Learning

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February 8th was Maker Day at Northern Gateway with a complement of staff converging in Whitecourt to learn more about the Maker Movement and how to embed the Maker ethos in their schools and classrooms. A huge thank you to Whitecourt Central Elementary for hosting us, to the NGPS Board of Trustees for supporting Maker Day, and to Dr. Susan Crichton, Director of the Innovative Learning Centre, UBC, for coming to us and sharing her considerable expertise and enthusiasm with the teachers, principals and librarians in attendance.

The Maker Movement: Celebrating the best gifts of humanity: The ability to think wisely, tinker creatively and share generously (Innovative Learning Centre, University of British Columbia).

So, what is the Maker Movement?

The Maker Movement is about empathy - improving our society on whatever scale we connect with - the classroom, our community, the world - through hands-on learning in which students design, experiment, build, invent and tinker. It's about the ability to think critically, be creative, take risks, build relationships and implement ideas.

A Maker Day is an immersive professional development event that requires participants to thoughtfully and fully engage in design thinking. Our Maker Day was about taking staff through the process of design thinking and incorporating that process in our classrooms and schools! 

Participants were organized randomly into groups that were all presented with a shared social problem, in this case, our aging population and their unique needs. Working together, each group discussed the issue, shared and explored ideas, documented their process and created a real, live, 3D product, to meet the identified need. Creations were then shared and discussed amongst the groups.

Maker Spaces are relatively new to NGPS. Our first space opened in Sangudo Community School last year with plans for other schools to develop either within existing Learning Commons' or as separate spaces entirely. Equipped with a variety of tools, machines, materials, art supplies, building supplies and so on, Maker Spaces and the Maker Movement, encourage students to design, experiment, build and invent as they deeply engage in science, engineering, tinkering and making.

The Maker Movement goes hand in hand with Alberta Education's mandate for schools: Engaged (doing) thinkers and ethical (empathy/society needs) citizens with an entrepreneurial (creative, innovative, risk-taking) spirit.






Using Design Thinking to make a difference for learning!

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