Rural Leader Magazine September/October 2015 - Page 55

What’s the Makers Movement about? Reinventing the world one child at a time   Can kids playing with Legos make the world a better place? Will children who build their own rocket ships or dollhouses go on to be the adult innovators of tomorrow, who take on the world’s challenges with technology and creativity? If 13-year-old Shubham Banerjee is an example of young makers, the answer to those questions may be a resounding “Yes!”   After reading that most Braille printers cost more than $2,000, Shubham decided this price was “crazy” and set out to create a cheaper alternative. Using a Lego kit and parts from a local hardware store, he built a prototype Braille printer of his own. The price? About $350. With financial and technology backing from Intel, Shubham founded his own company and is now working on a more advanced, low-cost Braille printer based on the postage-stamp size Intel Edison computing platform.   Shubham’s story is amazing and inspiring - and less of an exception or a messy science experiment. than you might think. His story is This shift to making represents the one of the many successes emerg- perfect storm of new technological materials, expanded opportuniing from the Maker Movement. ties, learning through hands-on Makers come from all socio-ecoexperience and the basic human nomic backgrounds and are all impulse to create.” ages. They use technology and   Affordable technology and the creativity to reinvent the world ability to share online has fuaround them, whether it’s adding eled the Maker Movement. New motion-sensitive LED lights to Barbie’s outfit, creating a tweetable tools like 3D printers, robotics, coffee pot or using sensors to cre- affordable microprocessors like ate an app-enabled watering systhe Intel Galileo or Intel Edison development boards and new tem for their houseplants. Many, like Shubham, are employing their programming languages are skills as makers to create their own enabling hands-on learning and encouraging children of all ages career opportunities.   “The lesson for all of us is that to use these tools to move from passive receivers of knowledge to making and exploring through play is not just about celebrating real-world makers. For the first time, students can take their powthe gifted but about triggering and encouraging the talent living erful ideas to create real things, not just make-believe models. inside every child,” says Jay MelKids can solve real problems with ican, Intel’s maker czar. “Study their own inventions and easily after study supports that the best explore science, technology, engiway to activate a curious mind is to make something. That might be neering and math (STEM) career opportunities. an amazing high-tech invention | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2015 55