5 Ways to Join the Maker Education Community

So you're ready to bring maker education into your classroom? If becoming a full maker educator sounds intimidating (and even if it doesn't), first try dipping your toe into the wider maker community. Doing so will familiarize you with important maker concepts and help build your confidence.

The best way to become a maker educator is first to become a maker yourself. Following are five ways to get started.

1. Join MeetUp

If you live in a relatively populous region, chances are there are maker groups ready and waiting for you in your community. And even if you live in a more rural setting, it doesn't hurt to see what might be out there. In a maker meetup group, you will find like-minded people with whom you can collaborate or from whom you can learn. Many groups often run events on specific topics that might interest you and that might be good fodder for your classroom.

2. Look for a Local Makerspace

Community makerspaces are increasingly popping up in old warehouses, church basements, libraries and strip malls. Many require a membership fee, but once you're inside, it's well worth it. Here you'll find access to bigger equipment that it might be difficult to get your hands on otherwise, like band saws and 3-D printers. And because they're open to the community, makerspaces attract a wide breadth of people with a variety of skills who are often more than willing to educate, collaborate and help.

3. Attend Maker Faire

Maker Faire is one of the biggest gatherings of makers in the world. Here you'll find makers from around your community and from far away to inspire you with their creative ideas. If conferences are more up your alley, FabLearn , a constructionist learning organization, hosts an annual event. Participating in your local or global maker community will give you confidence and will help to develop your making skills before you bring them into the classroom.

4. Hit the Books

Patrick Benfield, STEAM and makerspace director at the St. Gabriel's School in Austin, Texas, recommends the book "Mindstorms: Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas " by Seymour Papert. Published in 1980, it was prescient in many ways and is a popular read in the maker movement. It provides great grounding for anyone getting started.

5. Get on Social Media

Pinterest is bursting with creative makers and maker educators with project ideas and tips to inspire and support you. All you have to do is search terms like "maker," "maker projects" and "maker education." On Twitter, follow accounts like @makeredorg , @makemagazine and @makerspaces_com , as well as the hashtags #MakerEd , #Maker , #makerspace , #makerslowchat and #makeurmark for tips and ideas. It's also worth it to follow other maker educators, as well as those who participate in STEM, STEAM and project-based learning discussions, as many also incorporate making into their curriculum. Search by using tags like #stem , #steam , #projectbasedlearning and #stemchat .