Responding to the President’s Call, a New Effort to Help More Students be Makers

Earlier this year at the White House Science Fair, President Obama met Joey Hudy, a 14-year-old from Arizona who developed the “extreme marshmallow cannon.” Joey showed the President his business card. It had a simple motto: “Don’t be bored. Make something.”

Joey is a self-described “maker,” part of a growing community of young people and adults who are designing and building things on their own time. This weekend, in San Mateo, California, over 100,000 people are expected to show up at "Maker Faire" to see what community members are making. Sixty “mini-Maker Faires” are planned this year alone.

President Obama believes we need to give more young people the ability to be makers like Joey.

As the President said at the launch of his Educate to Innovate campaign to improve science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, "I want us all to think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering, whether it's science festivals, robotics competitions, fairs that encourage young people to create and build and invent -- to be makers of things, not just consumers of things."

That's why today, we are excited to highlight a new effort that responds to the President's call to action: the Maker Education Initiative (MEI).

With leadership from Dale Dougherty, a White House Champion of Change and founder of Maker Faire, MEI has founding sponsorship from Cognizant, Intel, and O'Reilly Media.

The mission of the Maker Education Initiative is to create more opportunities for young people to make, and—by making—build confidence, foster creativity, and spark interest in science, technology, engineering, math, the arts—and learning as a whole. MEI wants young people to join—and eventually lead—the growing Maker Movement.

The Maker Education Initiative will achieve its mission by focusing on three important areas:

  • More maker spaces and infrastructure where students can come together to design and build;
  • More maker projects that bring together materials and curricula for a broad range of students of various ages, and;
  • More maker mentors to share both their technical expertise and their passion with young makers.

MEI will also build upon the Young Makers program, which has developed a playbook to help parents, teachers, and students in communities across America start local Maker clubs. Through these efforts, MEI will work to introduce the maker mindset into schools, afterschool settings, and summer camps. These and other projects will be developed to deliver a sustainable infrastructure, technical expertise, shared resources, materials, and curriculum to communities across the Nation.

We look forward to working with MEI and its partners on this important and exciting work.

Tom Kalil is Deputy Director for Policy at OSTP. Kumar Garg is Senior Advisor at OSTP.

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