My son is a maker. We knew this from an early age. He has always had good fine motor control and loved to work with his hands. When he was younger, he enjoyed traditional arts and crafts activities. He knits, sews, weaves, and needle felts but never uses a pattern. I think that's what inspires me most about his work - if he wants to knit a dog, he just knits one. He knows how to read a pattern now, but he finds it awkward and slow to try and figure out what someone else wants him to do.
Now he's 11. He still knits, sews, weaves and needle felts. But he's added basic programming, electronics and the Arduino into his toolkit. He still doesn't follow project instructions. Kits have never worked for him. He likes to flip through the pages of Make magazine and research his favorite subjects on YouTube. If he thinks of something, he builds it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. He's learning.
This year he started Grade 6 at the middle school in our neighborhood. It is a small school with great teachers who have created a vibrant and welcoming community. My son has been thrilled to participate in the first year of the school's maker space. I volunteer at the maker space too. It's been a lot of fun, for both of us. A few weeks ago we got news that the principal would be moving to a new school. The kids in the maker space wanted to make him something - this is what they came up with.
I was completely surprised by this project. I love it. It completely fits what they know how to do - parallel circuits, switches, rudimentary soldering and hot glue. It was made from components they found around the maker space. The results are wonderful!
My job was to bring it home from the maker space so my son could finish the soldering. It went back to school the next day and they got the kids in the maker space to sign it. Again, I'm impressed. Of course, projects and patterns have great value. They help us learn. But once you've learnt, take the time to create. Use what you know to make something new. You never know, you may surprise yourself!