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Open Make

Last week on #LeadUpTEACH I chatted with Laura Gilchrist, Heidi Veal and Elizabeth Bostick on MakerDads, our new (5 month-old family start-up) that is growing at a pace my wife and I didn't anticipate. We honestly didn't know if we'd get more than a school or two to book us for the first year, but here we are 5 months and I'm speaking with principals, teachers, parents and students daily to plan and orchestrate two-day in-residence experiences. More on that later, but below is the 55 minute clip recorded raw without a 10 minute tidy or staged - it is right from our working home makerspace, I'm about to put it through a 3 month makeover. 

If the video looks like a guy with a mustache surrounded by a bunch of clutter (maybe in his garage?), you've got the right video.

The MakerDads work happening across (our first cohort of schools in DE, PA, CA & MN) are also evolving teaching and learning spaces in their own schools. As part of the MakerDads model, I'm working physically and virtually alongside of them, for the next 12 months to support the ups and downs of making a GREAT makerspace. And yes, we'll be using Laura Fleming's new book, Making GREAT Makerspaces (Corwin, 2017) to guide us. Laura, a great friend and colleague, has even agreed to join us on the Voxer group to push our thinking! I'll play the role of cruise director, and will be communicating across four schools using a few high quality, collaborative social media tools teachers (and the rest of the world) are using for asynchronous an on-demand PD in 2018. It's going to be a blast, and I'm so excited to bring the four schools together, and create even more mini tribes amongst them. (When we find new ways to collaborate the kids win!)

So now that I've taken the vulnerable step in putting our family makerspace on YouTube, the real work begins. The goal is to evolve this garage into one I would design alongside a preK/elementary school. It must be kid-friendly by design, but also flexible enough where a group dads, principals and/or teachers could come in and participate in an OPEN MAKE. The @MakerDads Community Makerspace is designed to be A SITE WHERE PARENTS CAN MAKE WITH THEIR KIDS, to complement the OUT OF TOWN WORK we are doing in schools across the country (MakerDads In-Residence, etc). 

We've sealed up the 2 garage doors, added some brain-friendly paint, build a work bench and added lots of white idea. Most importantly, however, we've had many learners of all ages and experiences tour the space and offer feedback and ideas that made us think. Design thinking is such an interesting and thought-provoking place. We're off to a good start in the empathy department, but have a long way to go. Our first OPEN MAKE is coming up 3/10/18. Details below.

Consider the @MakerDads Community Makerspace a "gym for makers" of all ages. Only family and friends will have access to this experience for now, since space is limited. Behind the scenes, we're working to secure a larger space, possibly an old closed down / rarely used space in Cheltenham/Elkins Park where we can host more kids and adults to engage in MAKING of some kind. Plans have been discussed of 3D Print shops, coding classes, upcycle pallet creations, vinyl designs and more. If we do expand, it'll be due to the success of the schools we are working with, and the student voice and leadership necessary in those spaces. That is the amplifier, and the group that we should empower to take this work to the next level. 

I'm working to value student/kid voice more daily. I have 4 under 6 that I'm learning from daily as a dad, and I'm already getting nervous about the experience they will have in elementary, middle and high school. My oldest, Mark, starts kindergarten in September! Right now he has his own key to the home makerspace. What will it be like for him next year? Have I set him up to be disappointed? I'd love to keep the convo going in the comments, or on a social network below.

Daddy on-

Joe Mazza
@makerdads (voxer, twitter, fb, insta)


  1. Wow! Good on you for taking the lead from your little ones and making space for family and friends. Love the Open Make! Off to a great start, I'd say, can't wait to hear more!

  2. Thank you for leaving my first comment on the new blog, Mary Ann! When we met I had no children. Life is crazy but so much fun. Let's plan an OPEN MAKE in your hood.


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