Q&A with Maker State

Lucy Harris

Every year we get the opportunity to connect with many great organizations who are spreading web literacy around the world at all times of the year. MakerState, hands-on makerspaces in New York City, is a perfect example. We had a chance to sit down with the founder of MakerState, Stephen Gilman to talk about what they’ve done in the past few months and the upcoming events they have planned for continuous making.

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What is your organization and what do you do?

MakerState empowers kids ages 5-18 with science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) passion and skill through makerspaces in robot engineering, fashion/wearable electronics, video game design, paper circuits, 3D prototyping and printing, comic book creation, and moviemaking. MakerState hosts makerspaces nationwide in schools and after-school programs as well as community workshops, pop up makerspaces, and summer camps.

What are the events you hosted or ran this year?

We hosted over 30 makerspaces this year in schools and community centers in New York, New Orleans, San Francisco, Boston, New Haven…and hopefully coming to your town soon!

Why did you choose to get involved with Maker Party?

We are a community of makers and educators  who believe that all learning can happen through building, creating, hacking, inventing…through making. We are committed to bringing as many maker-learning experiences as possible to kids and Maker Party is a perfect partner for us in that effort. Whether we’re doing pop up makerspaces with Maker Party or ongoing school-based makerspaces throughout the year, we’re excited to be Maker Party hosts.

What is the most exciting thing about running events?

Our favorite moment in the makerspace is when a young person, maybe five, six, seven years old, finds a maker project that they really love and becomes completely immersed in it. They are creating and building and learning science, engineering, design, or programming at the same time. But it’s the total immersion and joy that is so captivating to observe. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has called that moment the “flow state”—we call it the maker state.

Why is it important for youth and adults to make things with technology?

We see technology as the tools and media humans use to create art, new products, and to interact with others. Tech is how people literally live their lives. Tech can also save lives and bring us joy and allow us to pursue common dreams. There is a darker side to tech too: polluting, disintegrating, even destroying life. We teach kids the power of tech and tool-making so that they understand how to create new technology and benefit from it. Ultimately, it’s about moving young people from passive consumption of tech to become the pro-active, socially responsible creators of it. We’re convinced that this generation of kids we’re working with will create safe forms of energy, life-saving medical treatments, and new forms of media that draw humanity together for peace and productivity. If we can engage kids at a young enough age and build skills, confidence and passions around tech, they will blow our minds with the new world they create.

What is the feedback you usually get from people who attend or teach at your events?

It’s so fun to observe parents as they watch their kids in the makerspace. I like to step back from the kids sometimes and stand beside their parents as they marvel at what their kids are building. The universal reaction: I can’t believe how much she loves this project. I’m so impressed with what my son has built. I wish their whole school experience could be like this. We agree!

Why is it important for people and organizations to get involved with Maker Party and teaching the web?

Maker Party gives kids and communities an opportunity to explore hands on creativity with technology, often for the first time. This experience is invaluable for young people—often it is life changing. It’s the moment a young girl realizes she can become an engineer and build her world. The moment an inner city student realizes the total joy of science and the rewarding life he can live in pursuit of new ideas and new solutions to human challenges. Maker Party offers these life-changing moments to young people and we are proud to be a part of the movement.

How can people get in touch with your organization?

To start a STEM-mastery makerspace in your school or host a summer camp, contact MakerState at info@maker-state.com.

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