Making in Education Conference

Join us at Maker Faire for the Making in Education Conference

Making is transforming education at every level.

When we talk about making in education, we are talking about project-based learning, a teaching method that emphasizes problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration and self-guided inquiry along with standards-based content.

We invite classroom teachers, administrators and others in the field to join us for our 2nd annual Making in Education conference, designed to share information, skills and strategies to encourage project-based learning in schools, libraries or other learning spaces.
Making in Education Conference

The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and Learn Deep will co-host this special program, including panel discussions, hands-on workshops and presentations. Sessions include:

  • What is a makerspace? Mobile carts, fab labs and other models
  • Standards-based maker projects, rubric and assessments
  • Instructional techniques to foster project-based learning
  • The impact of making on student achievement: research and findings
  • The Maker Mindset: Collaboration and Design Thinking
  • Tools and technology for an educational makerspace

Lunch, parking, refreshments, and admission to the Maker Mixer (Saturday, September 23 from 6pm – 8:30pm) are included with your registration.


Sponsored by:

Collab Lab 9 Recap & Notes

Collab Lab 9 360 Selfie
360 Selfie under the guidance of Quentin Allums at the close of Collab Lab 9

Collab Lab 9 focused on evaluating success of makerspaces and FabLabs.  We used three questions to guide the discussion:

  • What does success look like?
  • What makes it difficult to assess?
  • How can those barriers be addressed?

Our discussion groups came up with these three big ideas to take home:

  • We have to learn to be comfortable with failure (and willing to model it for our students).
  • Makerspaces are a tool for developing a mindset
  • Successful makerspaces are the definition of individualized learning — teachers have the opportunity for one on one interaction with students, students are able to follow their passions.

And as a bonus: If students aren’t having fun, you aren’t there yet.

Links to things people heard about at Collab Lab 9:

April 20th: Tour of Milwaukee Jewish Day School’s Innovation Hub

April 27th: Betty Brinn’s Making in Education Community of Practice

May 11th: Collab Lab 10: Building Resilience

NEXT.cc: NEXT.cc supports making across the curriculum with STEAM based project learning set to NEXT Generation Science, Art & Design, and North American Association for Environmental Education Standards.  Scaffolding cognitive learning with discovery, NEXT.cc’s eLearning DESIGNopiedia introduces skills and integrates K12 classrooms with apps, virtual field trips, TEDed courses, free data sets, mapping, and science interactives bringing our youth into the future of lifelong learning.

21st Century Classrooms
Outdoor Classrooms

Mark Keane’s architecture classes for high school students:

Draw to Build I & II
UWM SARUP now offers two dual enrollment Architecture courses for juniors and seniors in high school.  They can be accessed via Youth Options or PLA. Contact Prof. Keane for more information: keane@uwm.edu.  Here’s a brief piece on the course featuring Collab Lab attendee Cindy McClinn and her students: http://uwm.edu/news/area-students-explore-architecture-100-and-perhaps-a-career/

Notes from breakout groups:

Group 1: We have to learn to be comfortable with failure (and willing to model it for our students)

What does success look like?

Dewy — Congnition — Metacognition
Mistakes & Failure
Outputs:  What does it look like? What does it sound like?
Growth Mindset
Common Process

What makes it difficult to assess?

Teacher/Educator thinking
Tasks — What is authenticity?
Questions are unwelcome
Grade based system
Lack of experience with failure/open tasks
Kids are trained to think about school in “school” ways
Behaviorist vs Constructivist

How can those barriers be addressed?

Common processes
Digital modeling
Community involvement
What is making?

Group 2: Makerspaces are a tool for developing a mindset

What does success look like?

Passion for a career path
Meaningful collaboration
Focused engagement on task
Problem solving
Equality of ideas/contributions
Success is nurtured and progressive
Teachers as facilitators & learners
Learning through experimentation
High level of resilience to change
Authentic experiences
Makerspaces is a process/culture

What makes it difficult to assess?

Traditional buildings
Lack of exposure/access to tech
“Accounting mindset” of leadership
How do I manage the learning process?
How do I track learning that takes place 24 x 7?
Gather the info that leadership needs
Kids don’t know how to self-assess/be accountable for their learning
There is not time to teach anything that doesn’t lead to a 22 on the ACT
Don’t know how to reach outside businesses for real higher level learning
Teacher education is not continuous and focused on designing engaging project opportunities
Tine to do something other than standardized tests


Group 3: Successful makerspaces are the definition of individualized learning — teachers have the opportunity for one on one interaction with students, students are able to follow their passions

What does success look like?

Start with purpose– of the space; of the school
For who?  Student, teacher, school, community
Attendance up
Increased engagement– students and teachers
Curiosity is sparked
Students (and teachers) are not afraid to fail
Becomes part of the culture of the the school/community
It is demonstrated
Ability to transfer and apply the skills learned
Hit high standards
Finding one’s self
Be able to adapt/be responsible
Kids set their own expectations
Compliance does not equal success
Integrated with curriculum
Other teachers are comfortable using the space
Students understand how to be life long learners
Teachers have an individual connection with students

What makes it difficult to assess?

Who is asking– district, school, parent, student
Long time frame required to see the results
Figuring out what is important
Pressure for standardized testing
Students are handed off to someone else (for the makerspace work)
Changing expectations
Getting teachers to adopt a new role– mentor/guide

How can those barriers be addressed?

Agreement on what you want to see happen
Ask how the community can help
Ask students for self evaluations
Classroom teachers should work with students within a makerspace (rather than handing them off)
Show off the results of student efforts

Innovation in Action Tours

We’re introducing something new:

Following on the success of our monthly Collab Lab community discussion events, we’re introducing a hands-on opportunity to explore the ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ of maker spaces as they relate to the introduction of forms of authentic learning for K12 students.  Our first tour will visit the  Milwaukee Jewish Day School’s Innovation Hub on Thursday, April 20th from 4-6pm. We will explore how that vision guided various design decisions they’ve made along the way– in terms of how the space is configured as well as how it is used.

MJDS Innovation Hub

Details and registration information for our first visit are here.  Stay tuned for what we have coming up next.

Makerspace Challenge: Peer and Mentor Reviews

Our makerspace challenge team gets input from mentors

Our makerspace challenge team got a chance to share what they’ve learned to date with their mentors and peers from NML’s team. The team is working to understand the types of materials used within school based makerspaces, how that varies by grade level and where schools run into issues. By Next Tuesday they need to have a firm grasp on their initial target customer and the problem(s) they hope to solve.

Makerspace entrepreneur challenge at The Commons

LD partners with Betty Brinn Children’s Museum.

In other metro areas around the country, non-profit organizations have formed to address this challenge. They solicit donations of excess materials from area firms and make them available to educators at low cost.  Better known among these are RAFT, with locations in California and Colorado, and the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse.

Teachers attending our monthly Collab Labs expressed concerns about the cost of materials. That got us wondering what options we have in Milwaukee for an organization doing something similar.  We brought the idea for a corporate challenge to The Commons (who provides space for our Collab Labs in Ward 4 and helps facilitate our break out groups). They agreed that this would make an interesting challenge for students. So earlier this month we got the green light to pursue that with a team in this semester’s cohort.

We partnered with Betty Brinn Children’s Museum to formulate this challenge over the past weeks.  We are challenging a team to create a pitch for a sustainable startup to provide surplus materials to the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum’s Maker Initiative as well as area school’s maker programs. We spent Sunday afternoon at Ward 4 with Carrie Wettstein and Mike Cook from Betty Brinn to introduce our challenge and meet prospective team members.

The project will kick off on the 21st when team rosters are announced.  Our team will work with Mike Cook and the makers at Betty Brinn to understand their needs. Joost and I will serve as the team’s coaches through the process. We’ll help connect them with area schools creating or running makerspaces/FabLabs so they can understand the K12 perspective as well.

We are thrilled to have the opportunity (Thanks, Joe!) and look forward to the work.  We’ll keep you posted on the team’s progress and opportunities to see what they come up with.

Collab Lab 6: Notes from our breakout groups

Thanks all for a great discussion last night at Collab Lab 6 (actually, a bunch of great discussions). To recap, we framed the conversation around three questions:

  • What can your makerspace/FabLab offer teachers?
  • What problems does this solve for them?
  • What keeps them from taking advantage of it/how might those issues be addressed?

Here’s what we noted:

What can your makerspace/FabLab offer teachers?

Group 1

  • “Blood in the mouth” how do you get teachers really excited about the possibilities?
  • Take content & make it physical
  • Get students to go beyond their textbook
  • Learning to play → playing to learn
  • Relevance, rigor, application
  • Practicing Failure
  • Space designed to fit needs
  • Can become epicenter – pivotal point
  • Authentic, relevant problems to solve
  • Bring content back to experiment

Group 2

  • Additional capacities to help kids express ideas
  • Expands the pallet of tools & opportunities for teachers
  • Limited understanding of what it is
    • Ideas → ideas II → ideas III
  • Safe place
  • Capture & share stories of success
  • Show different ways of learning
  • Develop and share culture of makerspace
  • Set up to enable students pursuing passion → no mandatory activities

Group 3

  • Tools for:
    • artists to make art;
    • business classes to make a product
    • community service projects to make something useful
  • Hands on professional development for PBL
  • Support for elementary school
    • South Milwaukee: elementary school students working on symmetry design snowflakes.  Students are then paired with high schooler who helps them 3D print their designs.
  • Ad hoc opportunities to put something together
  • Attractive for students
  • It acts as a “send kids here to do that” space/ a place that allows groups of students to take on work that isn’t done easily inside a classroom
  • Provides crafting opportunities for teachers (who are then better able to generate ideas for how they could leverage the space for student projects)
  • Real world relevance
  • Provides a platform to do different (from traditional lessons) things
  • Provides a chance for students and teachers to bump into something new/exposure
  • Helps produce a change in mindset/change of pace
  • Provides a way to engage kids in a different way
  • Provides opportunities for kids to interact with students that would interact with elsewhere in the school
  • Provides application/support to teachers
  • Is able to draw funding and resources to the school
  • Provides flexible space
  • Becomes the place to address 21st century skills development
  • Makerspace lead handles prep for projects (so teachers do not)
  • The equipment is maintained and ready to go
  • It a fun space
  • It produces engaged kids

What problems does that solve for them?

Group 1

  • Amature meets expert
    • Promotes mentorship
  • Redefines learning process
    • Who are the learning for?
    • Learning how to learn

Group 2

  • A way to develop empathy
  • Instill a mentality/culture
    • Ideation
    • inquiry
  • Invest in professional development
    • Teachers are professionals
    • Lifelong learning
  • Incrementalism

Group 3

  • A way to meet requirements for PBL/development of 21st century skills
  • A new point of entry/cheap way to start with PBL
  • Allows teachers to break out of silos
  • Can attract outside funding which reduces pressure from budget constraints
  • Costs of space can be shared across multiple departments
  • Remove overhead from teachers (makerspace lead puts together projects and materials)
  • Teachers aren’t sure what they could do, makerspace lead can help frame projects
  • Shows teachers a path into PBL
  • The teacher does not need to know everything– they can rely on tech staff/students to help with equipment
  • It’s a way into learning (as opposed to educating)
  • Test scores improve among kids engaged in problem solving
  • Produces engaged students
  • Provides a change of pace
  • Provides an opportunity to model creative thinking/problem solving
  • Provides both teachers and students a safe place to fail
  • Teaches teachers 21st skills
  • Having a tech lead that can set up projects reduces stress/risk for teachers that want to take on PBL

What keeps them from taking advantage of it?

Group 1

  • Must provide learning outcomes/goals/assessment
  • Needs continued reward
  • Broken 3D printers
  • Who started it???
  • Incorrect definition of “maker”
    • Creative Space
    • Genius Bar
  • Not knowing what can be done
  • Fear
  • Needs a facilitator
  • Permission from administration
  • Parents
What would help address these issues?
  • After school volunteer club for teachers
  • Customer discovery
  • Sleeper agents → referrals
  • Having an Idea person that helps connect teachers (Librarian)

Group 2

  • Competing priorities
  • Lack of culture to stimulate risk taking
    • What is “risk” taking
  • Lack of technical skills
  • Early vs late adopters
  • Lack of development of “grit”
  • System promotes end-point learning
  • Focus on experiences, not on “things”
  • If you can see it you will want to use it
  • Absence of design drivers (shared)
    • Visitation later in the design experience.


Group 3

  • Teachers need hands on professional development
  • Feels risky
  • Lack of control
  • Funding
  • ROI on time
  • Teachers aren’t sure what they can give up to fit something new into schedule
  • Change is seen as a threat
  • Change is seen as “We’ve seen new ideas before, this too will go just like the rest of them”
  • Focus on equipment
  • Mentors don’t know how to work with kids — kids have kid issues
  • Focus on learning to use the equipment (technical skills) rather than an opportunity to learn in a different way
  • Self selection to participate is missing from school makerspaces, which makes it more difficult for the space to become self regulating
  • I already have my lesson plans set and they work for me.  Why would I want to give that up to try something new.


What would help address these issues?
  • Visibility of student work
  • Visible credit given to donors of equipment (so it is not viewed as cutting into the school budget)
  • Shift resources from equipment acquisition to developing the mindset of teachers
  • Staffing — endowed mentor/tech position
  • Mentors — Lead off with small doses so they have time to figure how to work with kids
  • Figure out how to allow users of the space to come and go on an ad hoc basis (after school?)
  • Shift the mindset of funders from equipment to professional development

Collab Lab 9: Makerspaces/FabLabs Part III – Evaluating Success

Collab Lab 9: Makerspaces/FabLabs Part III – Evaluating Success

Working through…

  • how to assess collaborative project based work,
  • understanding what students need to develop their talents,
  • demonstrating that projects hit learning and curriculum goals?

You are not alone. Come share ideas with your colleagues at public, private, and charter schools from across greater Milwaukee, as well as some folks outside of K12 who offer an interesting perspective on the topic.

Among others, you’ll have a chance talk with:

Armen Hadjinian – Milwaukee Area Technical College Entrepreneurship Center

Armen established and teaches in the Milwaukee Area Technical College Entrepreneurship Center which is opening a new makerspace on 8th Street & National Ave in Milwaukee. He authored The Entrepreneur’s Launch Guide (Kendall-Hunt 2012) and Entrepreneurship Drills (Kendall-Hunt 2017). He is also an adjunct faculty member in the Alverno ollege MBA program, teaching Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He also was part of the leadership team on one of the first mobile payments apps, Talipayments.


Emily Schindler -University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Education

Emily is currently a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Education. She studies Curriculum and Instruction, and her specific interests focus on digital tools, interest-driven learning, STEAM, and innovative teacher learning. She is a former K-12 public school Literacy Specialist and English teacher, and her favorite grades to teach were 7th and 8th grade. In her teaching, she explored the uses of project-based learning, multi-modal tools, and student-led curricular models.


Greg Herker – Fab Lab Manager Gateway Technical College
Greg is the architect of a variety of programs through the Gateway Fab Lab that support students, the community, and local industry. Greg currently serves on the Board of the United States Fab Lab Network (USFLN), has consulted on Fab Lab development through the National Science Foundation (NSF), and assisted numerous educational programs from K12 thru post-secondary in their Fab Lab programs. He is also heavily engaged with NC3 in developing training & curriculum for educators to leverage in the Fab Lab.


Jim Guy — Properties Director, Milwaukee Repertory Theater; President, Society of Properties Artisan Managers

Jim has been a props professional since shortly after he joined the resident company of The Cleveland Play House almost 40 years ago, following brief stints elsewhere as a librarian and stage manager. Since then his work has appeared on and Off-Broadway, on tour, in print, on television, in museums and on the stages of theaters, opera and ballet companies across the country.  For seven years he served as director of the MFA program in Properties Design and Management at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Before that he ran his own freelance company, The Prop Guys, designing and producing props for industrial shows, photography, print, film, video, museums and the performing arts.  At the top of the 1998-99 season he was once again seduced by the glamour of regional theater props, and joined Milwaukee Repertory Theater as their Properties Director, where he and his five-person team prop from twelve to fourteen shows in nine months.  In what time is left, he still teaches, consults, serves as President of the professional not for profit prop masters’ association, the Society of Properties Artisan Managers (SPAM), and takes in a little freelance work. For many years he has been presenting seminars and master classes to educational and professional groups across the country on Firearms Use and Safety On Stage and on Props in the Production Process.   He lives in Milwaukee with his longsuffering wife, artist and soft props artisan Margaret Hasek-Guy, their kids and a bunch of cats.


Mark and Linda Keane – co-founders, STUDIO 1032; co-creators, NEXT.cc

Mark is Professor of Architecture at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and Director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Initiative; awarded the national AIAS Young Faculty of the Year in 2011 and honored at the Guggenheim, NYC, for his work with HABS and students at Taliesin East, WI, he teaches drawing as place-based engagement.

Linda is Professor of Architecture and Environmental Design at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she initiated the development of a third accredited architecture program for Chicago, directed the City of Chicago Green Roof Website and works with thesis students in developing their final dissertations to contribute new knowledge to the built environment professions.

NEXT.cc is a STEAM by Design eLearning resource and non-profit that reaches people in fifty states and over 150 countries.


Steve Vande Zande – Bay View High School

Bay View High School is MPS’s School of Creativity and Innovation with a STEAM focus. It holds a wing dedicated to design thinking complete with a makers space for students, shared artist and designer studio, and professional gallery. Bay View High School also offers a NAF academy that supports the building of Formula 1 race cars and a skateboard engineering project.

The majority of Steve’s time is spent in a school setting as a Program Implementer for Milwaukee Public Schools. Having worked as an education programmer for the Milwaukee Art Museum creating teen programs, and an educator of teacher training at Marquette University, Steve finds these experiences with students spanning early-childhood through adulthood as the impetus that continues to build his fascination with capturing moments in human development that are hard to put into words.

Steve received a B.A. in art education from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and an M.S. degree in the area of leadership with an emphasis in the arts from Bank Street College of Education in conjunction with the Parsons New School for Design.  In 2003 he was the recipient of the Outstanding Educator of the Year award from the Wisconsin Art Education Association, and Excellence in Education by Milwaukee Public Schools in 2004. In 2009, Steve was awarded “Outstanding Faculty Lecturer for Educational Policy and Leadership” from the Marquette University College of Education. In 2012 he was named mentor of the year by the Southern Graphics council, In 2014 he was the honored as a Friend of Art from the Milwaukee Arts Board.



5:30 – 6:00 Grab something to eat and drink, say hello

6:00 – 8:30 Let’s learn from each other

Food and beverage will be provided. There is no charge for participation but space is limited!


The Collab Lab will be held in the innovation space at Ward 4, 333 North Plankinton Avenue, Milwaukee, WI.  Space provided courtesy of The Commons.

2023-24 Collab Labs

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