learn / 2014

Tinker.Make.Innovate. Challenge

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by The Exploratory: Maker Guilds

Our Challenge provides resources & training to educators to help their students showcase at the LA Convention Center.


Please describe yourself.

Solo actor (just us on this project!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

Our Challenge provides resources & training to educators to help their students showcase at the LA Convention Center.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South Bay
  • Westside

What is your idea/project in more detail?

We know that Los Angeles’ educators in schools and libraries are dedicated, hard working, and committed to the most important job in the world - teaching. Educators have shared with us their desire to incorporate 21st century skill development into their learning environments. The Exploratory:Maker Guilds will propel Los Angeles educators on the path to making Los Angeles the hub for learning. This challenge will ask students to invent something that solves a problem or addresses a need using design thinking techniques like brainstorming, research, ideation and prototyping while learning new technologies and tools, and finally, presenting their invention at the LA Convention Center.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

Phase 1: Call For Participation Through our partnerships with LAUSD, Santa Monica Unified School District, Los Angeles Science Teachers Network, Pearson Foundation, New Learning Institute, LA Summer of Learning program from Mayor Garcetti’s office, and the Children’s Services Department of Los Angeles Public Library, The Exploratory: Maker Guilds will circulate a Call For Participation which will include:

  • Tinker.Make.Innovate Challenge information
  • Orientation Workshop information
  • Intent to Participate FormsThe first 100 educators who return Intent to Participate forms will receive registration information for 1 of 3 Orientation Workshops. Educators beyond the first 100 will receive the following:
    • Tinker.Make.Innovate. Challenge instruction packet
    • Link to Google + community site with instructional videos, list of materials, and other resources.

Phase 2: Orientation Workshops and Training The first 100 educators will be invited to attend one of the 3 orientation workshops. These workshops will walk the educators through how to implement Tinker.Make.Innovate curriculum in their classrooms or library programming. This workshop will cover:

  • Basic electronics, prototyping techniques, 3D modeling for 3D printing & laser cutting, electronics for textiles, engineering with paper, and other making techniques.
  • How to incorporate Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core Standards into the Challenge
  • The use of Design Thinking process to encourage design and innovative thinking Each participant will then be provided with a Make-It box full of tools and materials that will help them facilitate the challenge with their students. * the exact tools and materials will be determined by donations in kind. Phase 3: Ongoing Development and Documentation Educators will receive further development and support through monthly Google Community Hangouts. These Google Hangouts will serve as an online community for the challenge participants to share tips and techniques, document their students’ progress, and receive assistance/mentorship from Maker Guild’s professional staff. The online community will serve as a way for us to continue to inspire and learn from one another. Phase 4: Showcase During the first week of May 2015, educators will submit their students projects to be showcase

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to LEARN today? In 2050?

The current structure of our education system is failing our students which in-turn is failing LA. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2013, only 22% of California students tested proficient or above in science. We also know that science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) equip students with the skills they need to be innovative thinkers. With the implementation of this program today:

  • We will empower our teachers and librarians by providing the tools they need to feel confident integrating STEAM into their programs.

  • We will support our educators to grow too. More than 85% of elementary educators have not received science-related professional development in the last three years. In the Orientation Workshops, and through our Google Community, educators and librarians will receive mentorship and ongoing professional support.

  • We will expand the reach of the classroom. If we provide libraries with these tools, students will not have to stop their learning when they leave school.

  • We will lessen truancy and expulsion rates. When students are engaged in their learning they are excited about going to school.

  • We will build a culture of entrepreneurship, innovation, and problem-solving. Through this challenge, our students will be immersed in real world applications of STEAM, design thinking, and an innovative mindset. This will open them up to the possibilities of high-school electives, college degrees, and even careers in STEAM.

Changes in the way LA students learn today will lead to a brighter LA in year 2050:

  • Where students work with their hands, hearts, and minds to create innovative solutions to real-world problems.

  • Where the way Los Angeles students learn and the way our teachers teach becomes a model for school districts throughout the nation.

  • Where libraries are not merely places to read a good book, but are also innovation hubs where students and families are introduced to new technologies and ways of learning.

  • Where students are well prepared for universities and even their careers, and leave high school with a portfolio of innovative projects under their belts.

  • Where student showcases involve the larger community and are a regular tradition with hundreds of submissions from students of all ages, backgrounds, and demographics.

Whom will your project benefit?

The Tinker.Make.Innovate Challenge will directly benefit 100 librarians and educators, and 3000+ students throughout Los Angeles. Through the Google community and the challenge manual, thousands more students will be able to take part in the challenge in their schools and libraries. The showcase has the potential to benefit 40,000 students, families, educators, and community members by inspiring them and opening their eyes to the possibilities of STEM. As this program continues beyond the 2015 funding year, it has the power to inspire the 687,534 students enrolled in LAUSD schools, over 30,000 teachers, and more than 100 librarians in Los Angeles County directly.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

The Exploratory: Maker Guilds will work with the Los Angeles Unified Public School District, Santa Monica Unified School District, Science Teachers Network, and Los Angeles Public Libraries to inform teachers and librarians about the challenge and curriculum toolkit. Our collaboration with Pearson Education Corporation will enable us to make our curriculum and project ideas easily accessible to teachers and librarians to integrate in their programs.

Through our partnership with The Summer/City of Learning, students connected with our program will have the opportunity to participate in digital badging, a program sponsored by Mayor Garcetti’s Office. This program will enable students to map their progress through their projects and show skills gained to colleges and future employers.

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Learn” metrics?

  • Youth unemployment and underemployment
  • District-wide graduation rates
  • College matriculation rates
  • Suspension and expulsion rates (Dream Metric)
  • Truancy rates in elementary and middle school (Dream Metric)

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

District-wide graduation rates: By providing teachers and librarians with curriculum which incorporates hands-on inquiry based learning, we are empowering them to more deeply engage their students in their learning process. When students are more engaged in their learning, their desire to come to school and stay in school increases. This lowers truancy rates, suspension and expulsion rates, and also increases district wide graduation rates. When educators provide access to STEM skills, design thinking, and entrepreneurial skills in the classroom, students will graduate high school with a better understanding of their future goals. With the use of digital badging from the Summer and City of Learning students will also be able to display their skills to potential employers and college admissions advisors. Thus, increasing their employability and college enrollment.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

The selected librarians and teachers will be surveyed by our Board of Directors during the beginning, middle, and end of the challenge. The initial evaluations will be given during the orientation workshop; examining their comfort level with the subject matter, their current use of STEM tools in the classrooms or program, and the level of engagement of their students before participating in the challenge. Following the monthly Google Hangout in December the second survey will be conducted. This survey will evaluate changes in the engagement of their students and comfort level with the content thus far. The final survey will assess overall changes in the level of engagement, academic performance, and attendance rate of the students. This survey will be given a week before projects are to be submitting. All of the data collected will be used to improve the curriculum and project for the following years.

When inviting students to participate in project based assignments the best form of evaluation are the projects. The projects submitted during the showcase are a form of direct assessment. This form of assessment measures the knowledge gained and the skills used. We will also require the students to document their project from the prototyping phase through completion and to show this documentation. The documentation will allow us to evaluate the growth of the students problem solving, innovation, and critical thinking skills.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

To date, we have facilitated over 40 workshops at 21 libraries, all have been filled up with waiting lists. The workshops have served over 600 students and families throughout Greater Los Angeles County. We have received many requests from librarians to hold professional development workshops and trainings so that they can fulfill their community’s desire for more hands-on learning.

We have also facilitated dozens of professional development workshops for hundreds of educators in the last 3 years. During these programs, educators have shared with us their intimidation with integrating STEAM subjects and mindset skills into their learning environments. Feedback from our educators and participants has helped to shape the structure of the Tinker.Make.Innovate. Challenge.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

We have already established an executable timeline.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

The major barriers of the Tinker.Make.Innovate Challenge, are providing funding for additional materials to support student needs and supplying enough support to the interested educators. In anticipation of these challenges we have devised two solutions to ensure the programs successful implementation.

To assure that materials are readily available we have reached out to a list of corporate sponsors interested in supplying in-kind donations; Maker Education Initiative and Intel are two of the corporations on this list. We are also prepared to write letters of support to any librarian or teacher interested in applying for grants to cover additional costs.

To best support all educators and students through the design and creation process, we have recruited a team of volunteers both from local corporations and interested community members. These volunteers will be available at our Maker Space in Culver City as additional resources for our new educators. . The times they are available will be posted on The Exploratory:Maker Guilds website.

What resources does your project need?

  • Network/relationship support
  • Money (financial capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)