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Expanding Possibilities with Maker Technology

by Eddie Rayner

Anna Pagdiwalla, Principal at Mayoor Private School in Abu Dhabi, is a visionary and a forward thinker who firmly believes that skill-based education is key to a successful life. With this mind, her vision is to make the school an institution of the future with growing technologies firmly at its helm. We spoke to Ms Pagdiwalla to find out more about the school’s goals, and particularly the benefits and advantages of Maker Technology.

What is Maker Technology?

Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand. Maker’s Technology is taking the world by storm. It’s a technology-based extension of Do It Yourself (DIY) where our students are innovating and inventing new projects/machines by using various materials.

Schools around the world have been integrating Making into their curriculum, developing Maker/STEM/STEAM programmes and building Maker Spaces as a way of engaging their students in more authentic learning environments and preparing them to succeed in a rapidly changing world. In contrast to purely rote memorisation, Making supports students in developing an understanding of what they’re learning in school through hands-on creation.

Maker Learning is a powerful pedagogy and practice that empowers young learners to be creative and critical thinkers, own their learning and explore engineering. Mayoor School, Abu Dhabi, sets itself apart from other CBSE schools, primarily because it emphasises ‘student-centred learning’ wherein growth and holistic development of the student are ensured.

Tell us about the reasoning behind introducing Maker Technology. Why was there a need for it?

Maker Technology is a relatively a new method of teaching students in a space where they can get hands-on experience working with concepts they recently learned. The point of integrating Maker Technologies in everyday learning is to make, create and invent new things. There are many advantages to giving students an opportunity to apply concepts and those benefits are true for all areas and fields of study. Maker Learning allows students to make important choices about how to design, make and illustrate the concepts they are learning in the classroom. This leads to students finding their own direction and developing ownership over the process of creation. Through creating these tangible objects, students develop a better understanding of the material, explore engineering practices and foster valuable 21st century skills. For example, problem solving is an invaluable skill that tends to get lost amid memorisation and grades.

Maker Learning gives students a way to see how problems can be solved and encourage them to find ways to solve issues in a manner that they would not see on paper. A student may understand a concept in theory but when faced with a problem it can be difficult to figure out how to apply the theory. Maker Learning teaches them how to take a concept and use it to resolve a problem.

What does a ‘Maker Space’ look like at Mayoor?

Initially, Maker Space at Mayoor was a dedicated space allotted to creative minds. However, along with the growing technologies, every classroom is turned into a maker space, providing more range, breadth, power, complexity, flexibility and a path to create a truly personalised learning for every student.

What are some of the inventions students have come up with?

There are various projects that our students have been working on, including:

  • After hours of trial and sheer grit, Rajesh Kumar Selvanayagam has finally succeeded in creating a working model of a confectionary vending machine.
  • Dipesh Prakash has created a new scratch programmed game that works with the help of Makey Makey. According to him, games are loved by people of all age groups, hence he decided to make a fun game for all to enjoy.
  • Jessica Jitu and Earl D’souza worked collaboratively to create a pair of shoes that can convert mechanical energy to electrical energy.
  • Mahek challenged herself with an innovative idea of making a ‘stationery vending machine’ to be installed in every classroom, to solve the problem for those who forget to bring their stationery to school for that day.
  • Amvi Dwivedi is mindful of the busy schedule that working mothers face, day in and out. Therefore, she is trying to make life easier for those working mothers who have very young babies. She is prototyping a roller buggy-baby stroller and scooter hybrid that will help mums to manage time for their babies and have time for themselves.

What has been the biggest challenge in integrating this programme?

The biggest challenge we face is when there’s a gap between the vision of delivering and the technologies available to make this possible. Our students are very talented and eager to explore new ideas. However, to execute them sometimes seems impossible due to the advanced tools and machines that may be required.

How does this programme help students for future careers?

Mayoor School, Abu Dhabi, is focusing on the core skills needed to succeed in a rapidly changing world with technology at its core. The key components of Maker Technology are self-learning, creativity, exploring new ideas, learning from failure, learning to identify and focus on a problem, self-expression and collaboration. If we align these skills to what employers want most, both now and in the future, we can see how critical Maker Spaces are for the success of our students.

Anna Pagdiwalla is the Principal at Mayoor Private School in Abu Dhabi. She is a visionary and a forward thinker who firmly believes that skill-based education is key to a successful life.