Introduction: The Makers E.D.G.E - a Guide for Teaching Young Makers

About: Soldering Sunday was started by a couple of Makers. We are dedicated to providing a supportive environment for Makers of all skill sets from the absolute beginner to the seasoned Maker. Our goal is to help you…

This guide is for anyone who has ever had to teach or organize a workshop or class for young makers.

E.D.G.E. is a technique that is been used for many years by the Boy Scouts of America and other large organizations. It is very effective because it is simple and gives the presenter a way to organize their material and keep the student engaged. The Makers E.D.G.E. is my personal variation on the concept based on the experiences I have had over the years of working with teens and younger makers.

What is Makers E.D.G.E?

E = EXCITE with ENTHUSIASM and EXPLAIN with the END in mind


G = GUIDE them through it


Lets get started.

Step 1: Why Is Making Important and Who Are Makers?

The goal of holding workshops for young makers is to help make more makers. But, what is a maker and why should we help people become makers? Before we jump into more on the Makers E.D.G.E, lets first understand what making is all about.

Time Magazine and Adweek define the Maker Movement this way:

"The maker movement, as we know, is the umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers. A convergence of computer hackers and traditional artisans, the niche is established enough to have its own magazine,Make, as well as hands-on Maker Faires that are catnip for DIYers who used to toil in solitude. Makers tap into an American admiration for self-reliance and combine that with open-source learning, contemporary design and powerful personal technology like 3-D printers. The creations, born in cluttered local workshops and bedroom offices, stir the imaginations of consumers numbed by generic, mass-produced, made-in–China merchandise."

Makers are, according to Wikipedia, part of "a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture." This subculture has become know as the Maker Movement.

There are plenty of folks who have and continue to study the Maker Movement and it's importance. In my own opinion, Making, Tinkering, and Hacking are part of our human nature. We are explorers. Why and how are natural questions I believe we are all born with. TInkering and making lead us to discovery about the world around us and leads us to solving problems. This is why I believe it is important to encourage the next generations to Make, Hack, and Tinker.

If you want to know why educators like the Maker Movement, I suggest you read this article:

Step 2: E Is for Excite, Explain, Educate


E = EXCITE them with your Enthusiasm and EXPLAIN with the END in mind

"People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care" -Theodore Roosevelt

I am an engineer. I love techie stuff. Often I find myself believing that if I just can download all I know into a person they will "just get it." Well, unfortunately that is not true. More unfortunately, I have seen too many other presenters ignore that truth. So how do we get people, especially young makers to open up, to be receptive and to get them to understand what we are trying to teach them?

Be ENTHUSIASTIC - it is catchy. Wear your passion for the subject on your sleeve! If you love science - show it. If you love art, math, engineering, whatever it is, show it. If you are not an excited person, switch it around - find out what are they are excited about.

Now, that does not mean you can go on forever here. Let's not tell them the whole history of fire. Use the excitement to EXPLAIN what you are all here to do today. Paint the picture in their mind of what they will leave here knowing or doing. Speaking of time, depending on the subject and the age, I find a lot of success in keeping workshops to about an hour or less.

Think like a cooking show chef. What do they do first in a cooking show? They tell you how excited they are about the dish they are about to cook. What dish? The finished complete one that they are holding right in front of the camera for you. MMMMM...looks good, doesn't it? Don't you want to eat it right now - yum. They have your attention.

Now get your makers attention. Show them the completed project or activity. If you can not, tell them what it is and use video or pictures. If the subject is a little dry, paint a bigger picture. Show them examples of the technology in use. When I teach RaspberryPI 101 I start with an overview of exciting projects others have done. That night we are only covering installing the OS on the Rasberry PI - not so exciting, but by showing them other projects they get ideas of what they can do. They get excited.

Break it down to the goal / agenda / plan for today is ... and we are going to do X, Y, and Z, and when we are done you will be able to .......

Step 3: D Is for Demonstrate


D = Demonstrate and Do It before they do it.

You have your group interested and excited, now show them what they came to learn.

Let's keep with the cooking show analogy. What comes next? (No, not the commercials - but I know you were thinking it.)

Imagine trying to cook in real time while the TV Chef is showing it to you. It would be pretty hard, not impossible, but hard. You are asking your brain to listen, understand, translate to your experience and surroundings, and act all at the same time. The chance to make a mistake is high. When that happens, what happens next? You fall behind even more.

Not everyone learns the same way and at the same pace, so use your demonstration as an opportunity to address the different learning styles in the room.

What does the TV Chef on our cooking show do? Does she show you everything in a long marathon session? No, she breaks it down into bite-size segments. She talks about what she is doing while showing you how it is done. Do the same with your activity.

No marathons. Like our Chef, break down your demonstration into segments. Again start with the end result in mind for each segment. Show the group what it is and then show how you did it. Use the Julia Child Method - take the already complete dish out of the oven and show it.

Try this: go get a rope or a string. Now, left over right. Right over left. Got it? Perfect right, you made a square knot. Probably knot (ok, bad joke). Try it a different way, go here to a Animated Knots. (I am not affiliated, I just love how they show the knots). What does the site show you first? The knot. Then they demonstrate to you how to tie it. They start with showing us the destination - just like our TV chef.

How long and how much in a segment is dependent on the age and skill levels you have in the room. Use your judgment. If you are not sure, then a good rule of thumb is if you are talking longer than 10 minutes straight you lost some folks.

Step 4: G Is for Guide

G = Guide them through it

Now it is their turn and the students in your session get to do. Yeah! Since you are not demonstrating you can help them along. See how this works, if you are demoing and they are doing at the same time, you can not help them. But this way you can.

"Failure is always an option" - Adam Savage

I love that quote! Failure is always an option - and that is a good thing.

Sometime we are so afraid of letting our students fail that we don't let them succeed. If the craft, activity, or whatever is in your hands and not your young maker's hand then you are not guiding them, you are doing it for them. That does not mean you can not help, but you need to asses whether you are helping them understand a point or are you completing the task for them.

If you notice that everyone is having a problem, you might need to step back to demo and even all the way back to explain. If you get lost, don't worry just think like a TV show chef.

Step 5: E Is for Enable


E = Enable them to Explore

Your session is done. Your activity is complete. But it is not over. There is one more critical step to making makers. We need to enable them to explore on their own.

This does not mean that you are tied to these folks forever, it simple means that they need some resources to help them continue. Depending on where you are holding the event or class, it might be right there at the next event.

For young makers, it is not just resources for them, but their parents as well. Where can the parents go to learn more and support their child's interest in making? Is there a Maker Faire coming up? Does their school or library have a Makerspace? Are there activities they can do at home? Be prepared and have a list. Often the most questions I get at the end fo a workshop are from the parents.

Step 6: Passionate About Making Makers

We hope you realize from this instructable that the most import thing we make at Soldering Sunday is more makers. We believe that tinkering and making are part of who we are as humans and that the things makers make can change the world. It does not mater if you are an engineer, an artist, a mom, a dad, an educator, a student, a hobbyist, or a professional maker. We want to help you explore new ideas, connect with fellow makers, and create the things that you are passionate about.

We have taught makers of all ages and it is exciting to see them grow and learn. We are on mission to create more young makers. To do that we have introduced CHIP - a cute, educational, STEM based electronics kit that grows from soldering skill builder, to a basic circuit tutor, to a friend you can code. Please pass the word around and check out our Kickstarter campaign

Thank you. We hope the Maker's EDGE is helpful.