Teaching Kids to Fail Well is the Key to Innovation

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I would argue that no organization in our state is doing more than the Science Center of Iowa to introduce young people to innovation, making and manufacturing. And as Jolie Pelds reminded me, making is a way of thinking, of using familiar objects in unfamiliar ways, of focusing on the process rather than the end result.

Mixology – Experience all that the Science Center of Iowa has to offer — minus the kids. Find some friends, grab a drink and enjoy adult-themed presentations and programming! General admission is $20; SCI Members are $18.

Innovation Lab Workshops – Use tools and materials to create a project based on the weekly theme. Workshops are open to all ages, but parent supervision is required for children under 13. Workshops are free!

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Des Moines Mini Maker Faire was hosted by the Science Center of Iowa on Monday, September 4. The all-ages festival celebrated those who tinker, build, experiment and collaborate. Exhibitors showcased creativity from across the state, and attendees were able to participate in hands-on activities to discover their own inner maker. There were a lot of activities for visitors to do, including skill stations where folks learned to solder, build circuits, knit or crochet, and make puppets. Multiple local robotics teams were onsite to talk about their projects and provide live demonstrations.

Making STEM Connections brings the Maker Movement into the classroom. Students explore STEM principles and 21st century skills as they design, create and make and allows educators to develop a maker’s space in their learning environment. The program provides teachers with training on tool usage and safety as well as lesson prompts and non-fiction resources. A classroom using the Making STEM Connections kit might have students learning how to fuse plastic bags and bubble wrap to create textiles. Students could combine art with science by creating a mark-making tool using batteries, a DC motor and markers. Within a maker’s space, students will learn to use a variety of tools including a drill for assembling projects as well as deconstructing materials.

What is Making?

Making is all about tinkering, building, experimenting and collaborating to solve problems. It can mean taking things apart and putting them back together. It can mean linking science and art to build structures that are equally efficient and aesthetically beautiful. At the Science Center of Iowa, Making means encouraging participants of all ages to see familiar objects in new, innovative ways, developing the collaborative mindset and skills necessary for the modern STEM world. 

Developing and encouraging Makers through the “maker mindset” is a critical step in developing Iowa’s innovation ecosystem and most importantly, developing a diverse workforce for the 21st century. Making is a hands-on, all-ages invitation to explore science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM. In connecting Making activities to STEM careers, Making introduces people of all ages to the skills and problem-solving techniques they can apply in a modern workforce that’s demanding more and more STEM professionals.  

Jolie and her passion for science, technology and how they connect to producing really cool products is a tremendous asset to our state.  I encourage all manufacturers, educators in STEM, and community leaders looking to build more makers in their region to reach out.  You can contact her at jolie.pelds@sciowa.org.  For more information on their programs, go to www.sciowa.org.

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