Making Is Learning: Developing Curricula Around Materials Exploration and Tool Literacy

Presenters: David Wells and Janella Watson
Making encourages experimentation and provides a platform for students to make mistakes but still feel confident and maintain a strong sense of identity to pursue their interests. The goal of this session is to explore ways to connect making to education and provide an overview of the framework the New York Hall of Science Maker Space uses to create programs to engage groups and individuals of diverse ages, genders, and backgrounds.

David Wells, Manager of Creative Making and Learning, New York Hall of Science
David Wells is responsible for all programming and activities in the New York Hall of Science’s (NYSCI) Maker Space. The NYSCI Maker Space has been working on a variety of different projects, including weekend workshops, afterschool programs, and out-of-school time camps. Wells has worked on the development and implementation of STEM-based workshops, including a simple machines workshop for early learners, as well as wood working and open-ended building projects. These workshops involve an entry-point discussion about the activity and hands-on deconstruction and discovery. He oversees the design and implementation of maker-related programs, as well as maker education initiatives that use local artists and makers as guest facilitators. A self-proclaimed "maker of things," Wells also designs site-specific interactive art installations using discarded technology, audio experimentation, and digital media to create an interesting yet whimsical experience for his viewers. During his time at NYSCI, he has worked on a wide variety of projects including designing exhibits for the early childhood space, developing emergent curricula for educational programming, and creating educational videos for teachers and students. Wells was nominated for the Champion of Change program, initiated by President Obama, which is meant to honor people that are doing innovative work within their communities. He received a BFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology and an MS in Museum Education from Bank Street School of Education.

Janella Watson, Director of Early Childhood Education and Family Learning, New York Hall of Science
Janella Watson joined the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) as director of early childhood education and family learning in November 2011. She works to nurture curiosity, creativity, and experimentation in young children by developing new STEM-rich programs and exhibit experiences that reflect NYSCI’s Design-Make-Play philosophy. Watson and her team piloted a new program, Little Makers, that invites families with young children (ages 18 months to six years) to tinker, design, and make together. She is currently conducting research in family engagement in making, in collaboration with the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. Watson joined NYSCI on the heels of running a company called Make-A-Messterpiece, sponsored by Proctor and Gamble’s Bounty brand. Make-A-Messterpiece, located in Chicago, Illinois, aims to unlock and unleash children’s creativity by inviting them to make big messes. Before that, she worked for more than eight years at the Kohl Children’s Museum of Greater Chicago as grants coordinator, museum educator, and as director of marketing and community relations. She is also a core member of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) Early Learning Community of Practice. Watson received her BA in Sociology, with an emphasis in Education Policy, from Northwestern University.