Teacher Appreciation Week – Who Inspired Us to Make?

originally posted on Boston Mini Maker Faire, May 8, 2018

While we all know teachers deserve year-round appreciation, this week is Teacher Appreciation Week and our team took the opportunity to think about our educators, and which of them inspired us to Make:

“…The teacher who introduced me to Making also happens to have been my grandmother! Gram was a nursery school teacher and reading specialist focused on dyslexia. She was also a knitter and a painter. Thanks to her natural inclination for teaching, both inside and outside the classroom, I learned how to knit and paint, too. My early experiences Making turned into a full-blown love for all kinds of art, and projects of almost any type. Everything from making wreaths out of shells to building a shelving unit is fair game. I still knit today and think of Gram whenever I finish a project…”

“…John Farias was my Biology teacher in 9th grade, and then my Vertebrate Zoology (elective) teacher my senior year.  I loved Mr Farias.  He was so excited about Biology, from the way cells work to larger structures.  I remember once during the zoology class, we were dissecting something pretty big, and I found something in the brain I couldn’t identify.  I brought it to Mr Farias and he was fascinated.  “I don’t know what that is!!!  We’ll have to find out.”  This was well before the days of the Internet and instant gratification; Mr Farias’s enthusiasm for not knowing something and seeing it as an opportunity to learn something new really stuck with me.  I went on to major in zoology, and later became an informal science educator…”

“…In college, I took a class called “Psychology of Sustainability”. My teacher challenged the class to go 10 days without producing any waste. During that time period, I really had to get creative with reusing, recycling, and creating novel solutions to my needs. That experiment caused me to find new ways to make things with my hands and my brain. When I joined the Boston Mini Maker Faire team, I stumbled across this quote that really captured my experience in that class: “[The Maker Movement] has the potential to turn more and more people into makers instead of just consumers, and I know from history that when you give makers the right tools and inspiration, they have the potential to change the world.” (Time Magazine)…”

“…The most rewarding class I had in high school was Humanities: the intersection of art, music, and English literature. For the class’s year-long culminating project, my friends and I were at a loss for what to do: we considered ourselves left-brained non creatives. Daniel Niven, an engaging and relate-able educator, then sat with us for hours of brainstorming to help us realize that we could make music that has intriguing mathematical themes and components. Not only did he inspire us to compose a nine-minute live-performed song about mathematical properties (‘Definition 23’ by Euclidean Dramamine), but he spent meaningful time helping us gain creative confidence and an appreciation of our “right-brain” potential. This was a crucial first step to then pursuing many Maker projects that followed in high school and college…”

“…I’ve been lucky to have numerous great teachers who encouraged Making. It’s hard to choose one or two to mention, but this week, I’m thinking of a couple of my sixth-grade teachers from Mount Nittany Middle School. My math teacher, Nate Cattell, had us design and build a bookcase, a toy box and a house out of cut and folded oak tag paper. The designs had to meet precise specifications, and the paper had to be all one piece. Boy, were those projects challenging (but they were rewarding, too). My art teacher, Julia Nelson, got me past an artist’s block by suggesting I turn my Junk Project – a sculpture made from recycled materials – into an installation, using the space on one of her shelves. A huge thank you to Mr. Cattell, Mrs. Nelson, and all my teachers!…”

Who inspired you to Make?

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