CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 12. . . November 24, 2017
The Maker Movement is a growing community of inventors, designers and tinkerers employing Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and Do-It-With-Others (DIWO) techniques and processes to create new products. These products usually fall within, but are not restricted to, the categories of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM). The use of upcycled materials is encouraged. "Makers", whose attributes include creativity, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, imagination, innovation, inventiveness and risk-taking, work in their homes, garages and workshops, referred to as "makerspaces". Failure is considered an opportunity for learning. Maker Fairs, family-oriented festivals which celebrate the Maker Movement and allow participants to share what they have created and learned, are held all around the world.
The titles in the "Be a Maker!" series, now numbering 16 volumes, not only encourage readers to follow their passion but also to collaborate with other similar-minded individuals to develop new ideas. Each title focusses on a particular area of interest and includes some history of the field, information about the various techniques used, tips and suggestions, and "Makers and Shakers" text boxes which feature past and current innovators. "Be a Maker!" sidebars pose critical-thinking questions designed to extend the reader's understanding of the topic. Bright and colourful, the books have an attractive layout with the text printed in geometric-shaped boxes. Illustrations consist of diagrams and photographs, well-suited to the text. A table of contents, a glossary and an index are included, and a "Learning More" section provides a brief list of books and web sites to support further research.
In each book, there are three projects for readers to try. (As such, the titles of the books are a bit misleading because the books are not merely comprised of projects.) Though the premise of the Maker Movement is creativity and innovation, in these four titles there is little room for creativity as specific instructions are provided for the projects. As well, the level of difficulty of the projects is inconsistent, and some of them are typical classroom assignments that can be given in a science or social studies class. One example is the leaf relief in the title about printmaking. This is a project that many kindergartners and first graders do in school every autumn. Several of the projects require an adult’s supervision, and some require tools and expensive materials.
Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Designing Communities shows readers that communities are more than just buildings. Consideration must be given to land use and zoning, roads, methods of transportation, traffic movement, green space allocation, protection of the environment, housing, amenities such as hospitals, schools and swimming pools, and goods and services. The first of the three projects in this title is the creation of a zone map which readers complete after visiting the city’s centre and noting the location of residential, commercial, institutional and industrial buildings. This is an example of a project which requires parental assistance (i.e. driving and accompanying the child/children to the heart of the city), and one questions the value of the time and effort spent just to ascertain where the various zones are. Examining an existing map would be a better use of time. The other projects include a model of a park design and the creation of a mobile lending library, the first of this pair of projects being the more creative of the two.
In Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Greening Up Spaces, readers will learn about various types of gardens (food, water, rooftop, wildlife, Zen, vertical, container, terrarium and fairy), plant zones, and caring for a green space through weeding, watering, deadheading flowers and ridding gardens of insect pests without the use of pesticides. There is also information about planning a green space, with size, use, focal point, hardscaping, water features, sun versus shade, drainage, types and sizes of plants, plant growth rate and plants’ changing appearance through the seasons being important considerations. Projects include a vertical garden made from empty plastic soda bottles, a rain chain to channel water from the roof to the ground, and a butterfly garden. Because a drill and pliers are needed for the rain chain, an adult’s help is required.
Printmaking is an art that combines well with other art forms, such as photos and paintings. There are several types (relief, silk screening, lithography, woodcuts and intaglio), and prints can be made on a variety of materials – cloth, clay, paper and ceramics. Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Printmaking provides information about various printmaking techniques and the materials used (e.g. brayers, chisels, stencils, squeegees, etc.) and how to present one’s completed art in a mat and frame. Projects include a gelatin plate monotype print using unflavoured gelatin, glycerin and paint, a leaf relief (too easy!), and a screen print t-shirt using fabric paint, an embroidery hoop and a large plate.
Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Sports begins with an extremely brief history of sports. The many benefits of participation in sports are listed: fitness, cardiovascular health, the development of social skills, teamwork, perseverance, and the ability to meet challenges. Other topics in this title include rules of the game, sportsmanship, extreme sports, and inventions that improve sporting equipment for performance and comfort. A few examples are the goalie mask, first worn by Montreal Canadiens’ goalie Jacques Plante, and bicycles and cycling clothes, designed to be as aerodynamic as possible for speed and efficiency. The projects in this title include the creation of a crisscross boomerang, a rule book for a Frisbee shootout game, and an obstacle course relay race.
Though the books in the "Be a Maker!" series can be useful and inspiring, there is an inconsistency both in the amount of information provided (some areas are underdeveloped while others contain far too much information) and in the quality and usefulness of the projects.
Recommended with Reservations.
Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
on this title or this review, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Creative Commons license allows you to download the review and share it with others as long
as you credit the CM Association. You cannot change the review in any way or use it commercially. Commercial use is available through a contract with the CM Association. This Creative Commons license allows publishers whose works are being reviewed to download and share said CM reviews provided you credit the CM Association.
This Creative Commons license allows you to download the review and share it with others as long as you credit the CM Association. You cannot change the review in any way or use it commercially.
Commercial use is available through a contract with the CM Association. This Creative Commons license allows publishers whose works are being reviewed to download and share said CM reviews provided you credit the CM Association.