At the newest Maakplaatson the Java Squarein Amsterdam, we started in early 2020 with a new series of lessons for children aged 8 to 12 where we discussed various (digital) techniques. In this series of twelve lessons, the children worked towards a Makers Market, where they could sell their creations. The proceeds from the sale of the made work would be donated to a charity, chosen by the children.
The prospect of the Makers Market inspired the children to think about what other people might need and would like to buy. The focus of this program was therefore not so much on making something for yourself, but for someone else.
Every week, the children worked on a different design with a different technique. They made piggy banks from recycled materials, laser cut coasters and 3D printed broches. Everything from idea to design to software to output was discussed. They learned to work with software such as Tinkercad and Inkscape, and saw their designs come to life with help of the 3D printer and laser cutter.
The Maakplaats coach helped the children to reflect on the usage of the machines. Are they smart? Can they think for themselves? “I think they are quite stupid,” one of the children answered. “You just say what it needs to do, and then it simply does that.”
We also went on a mini-excursion to a local artist who makes jewelry and hats of recycled plastic bottles. Afterwards, the children were wondering how they could make their own designs more sustainable. “Where does the plastic that is used in the 3D printer come from?” they asked. “And where does it end up?”
The series was a great success and the children did their best to make designs to fill the market. Unfortunately, due to the special circumstances surrounding the coronavirus, the market could not continue. However, the children have gained a lot of experience and new skills!