Learning Through Making

botcamp6As an artist, maker, and educator, Lizabeth Arum develops project-based curricula that foster innovation and creativity.  Liz teaches middle and high school students basic computer skills, programming, and physical computing at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn,  Her work at the MakerBot Foundation continues her previous role with MakerBot Industries, where she spent two years facilitating teacher networks and helping educators harness the potential of 3D technologies. 

MakerBot Industries and NYU-Poly have partnered on several initiatives, and this summer’s BotCamp on campus is the first partnership between NYU-Poly and the MakerBot Foundation.

botcampProject-based learning encourages students to ask thoughtful questions, problem solve, communicate effectively, design with intention, and to iterate on their ideas. These are all important skills to have and to develop regardless of what career path students want to ultimately pursue. It is during the process, rather than through the final product or object where true learning occurs.

DSC_0341In BotCamp, we’re teaching six one-week classes of middle school students, with classes organized around three themes: Light, Sound, and Motion. Our Sound students worked with circuits, designing housings for instruments and amplifiers in 3D, printing those models using MakerBot Replicators, and assembling the finished products.  They are sketching, sculpting, soldering, modeling in a virtual environment, and printing—and putting all the pieces together into a finished creation.

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To give the students a taste of many techniques, they’re each working on multiple projects of increasing complexity: a small 3D printed telescoping acoustic amplifier, a noise-box organ with a custom housing, and the week’s final project, an amplifier with custom-designed housing and high- and low-pass filters. The work has not always been easy, but our students have had fun, learning, exploring, and completing each project with a sense of play and purpose. Amazing what can be accomplished in just one week!