Making makes education fun, creative, lucid, experiential, tangible, unforgettable and much, much more!

Making provides the perfect avenue for academic institutions and early childhood learning organizations to teach STEM using a collaborative and project based approach.

We wanted to understand the role and growth of maker-centric pedagogy in East Bay schools. Here’s what we learnt from some of the Maker educators who have spearheaded efforts to successfully integrate Making as part of the curriculum in Oakland schools.

abd_logoAgency by Design is a multi-year research initiative funded by the Abundance Foundation which focuses on, development and assessment tools designed for maker-centered learning environments. The framework established by this effort builds on 3 core capacities: looking closely, observing complexity and finding opportunity.


The goal of this approach is to empower young minds to define entry points for change with a deep understanding and awareness of the subject matter and the eco-system that surrounds it.

Building this level of understanding helps, expand their thought process to inter-disciplinary objects and systems. This then provides the ability to perceive transitivity of cause and effect across the eco-system that surrounds the subject matter.

The end goal is to enable and empower individuals to build and shape the world that they live in with a deeper sense of appreciation and respect for the environment that surrounds them.

lighthouse-logoLighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland, CA is participating member of the maker movement developed by  AbD.

aaronvanderwerff“Making in education is really important as it is a tangible way to see how to turn learning over to kids. It has a benefit for students to build their own agency to deeply understand and feel vested in the learning process. “

Aaron Vanderwerff is the director of Creativity Lab at Lighthouse Community Charter school and it’s sister concern Lodestar located in Oakland, CA. He has been overseeing design and making programs at Lighthouse for the 4th year now, which includes coaching teachers and facilitating professional development. 85% of the student population at Lighthouse originate from low income families. Aaron firmly believes that maker centric curriculum encourages young minds to think creatively and make tangible associations to the learning process. He has observed an increased participation of younger girls and boys in STEM fields motivated by their interest in the subject matter.  He also mentioned that individuals are finding creative outlets not just for robotics and text based programming languages, but also by applying programming and circuit design to clothing etc.  Lighthouse kids from different grades engage in series of design projects using tools like Pro-bot, Turtle, Scratch, HummingBird and Arduino to name a few. Maker based learning at his schools utilizes cost-effective making tools for students to become critical thinkers and inventors, which will prepare them to be future entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists etc.


Join student volunteers from Lighthouse Community Charter school to build robotic pets at the EBMMF.  You will be guided by them in building prehensile machines, using only cardboard, string, glue, and straws. When you’re done, feed our (robot) petting zoo animals! Click on build a robot petting zoo from Lighthouse Creativity Lab for details.



Park Day School located in Oakland, CA is also a participating member of the AbD maker centric learning approach.


“Maker process is a response to consumerism in this society, focussing on how things are made and giving it the respect they deserve. Giving children concrete examples on the making process and an opportunity to work with  raw materials, enables them to experience and understand the effort involved in the building of things. “

Ilya Pratt is the director of the Design+Make+Engage program at Park Day School in Oakland CA. She is a Maker Leader for the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Project Zero, Agency by Design project, exploring the promises and practices of maker-centered learning. This is her 5th year of teaching making at PDS. She collaborates with K-8 teachers at PDS to devise curriculums that provide a rich project centric learning experience to their students. Her principle focus with maker based learning is to build capacities across Oakland for project based design. She believes that the thinking disposition of designers and makers can bring more richness and depth to curricular studies. Making helps kids build sensitivity towards the designed dimensions of the world they live in.

Social justice is a key issue at PDS and students are made to view their maker projects through different lenses to analyze cause and effect and the entry points for change. As an example the 6th graders are studying the concept of averages by taking measurements of their body to gauge the size of an average six grader. They are then made to tear apart a Halloween skeleton to reconstruct one that is the size of an average sixth grader. In calculating the average they are made to understand the differences between mean, mode, average and what context should a given measurement be applied. They also think about gender identity when it comes to building their ideal average sixth grader which takes them outside the realm of Math.

East Bay Mini Maker Faire is proud to showcase Maker booths from the various East Bay institutions that have pioneered Making as a method to teach science, history, math, technology and engineering to our youth and children.


Check out this great list — and search for their project and for more information on our Meet the Makers page.

Castlemont High School
East Bay School for Boys
Aurora School
West Oakland Middle School
Lighthouse Creativity Lab
Spring Hill Acadamy of Petaluma
Park Day School
Bentley School Makers
East Bay Innovation Academy
Piedmont High School

UC Santa Cruz
Laney College
Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation – UC Berkeley
Individualized Assistive Devices – UC Berkeley
Squishy Circuits – UC Berkeley Electrical Engineering Graduate Student Outreach
CalSol – UC Berkeley Solar Vehicle

Curiosity Hacked
Girls Garage
Young Sparks Foundation
Oakland and Emeryville 4H
Girl Scout Samoa Cookie Car
Girls Make Games
Scientific Adventures for Girls
Oakland Symphony Instrument Petting Zoo
The MAGIC of robotics
Trackers Earth
Project Ember Summer Camp

What usually happens in the educational process is that the faculties are dulled, overloaded, stuffed and paralyzed so that by the time most people are mature they have lost their innate capabilities.

R. Buckminster Fuller