Seth Godin has a great blog post today on how to teach science.
His 4 main points were:
1) Start with the method
2) Science makes sense, it’s not magic
3) Then the vocabulary
4) Metaphors are how we understand
As I read through, I realized this is also a great list to use when learning maker technology. I have followed a similar outline when developing workshops for the MakerLab at Albertsons Library. People keep signing up and enjoying them, so we must be doing something right!
Here are my thoughts on his points:
1) Start with the method – We often use the output, or the “thing”, of our workshops as the hook. Making a 3D model, creating audio or video clips, making an LED light up. Keeping attendees with their eye on the prize helps keep them motivate, but they aren’t aware at first that they’re learning the method!
2) Science makes sense, it’s not magic– We are teaching skills that go beyond science, and build confidence in tackling problems in all facets of their lives. “I created a 3D model, I can certainly figure this out!”
3) Then the vocabulary – Once attendees have some context to work from, then they’ll have an easier time grasping the vocabulary. Memorization isn’t a way to demonstrate learning.
4) Metaphors are how we understand – I am a big fan of metaphors in my teaching! I have found them to be especially useful in our workshops, as the concepts being covered are often unfamiliar. Unfamiliarity can create anxiety, and anxiety can be an impediment to learning.