Training Teachers to Use a Makery to Increase Student Interest and Proficiency in STEM

Researchers with the Invention Factory project put one of their major findings to work in 2008 in a new initiative called the Makery. The Invention Factory is a National Science Foundation-funded program that used invention as the catalyst for teaching middle and high school students the principles and relevance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). One of the most critical findings of the research was that the lack of hands-on and interactive activities within the current education curriculum severely hindered students’ interest in STEM careers. To address this, the Invention Factory established a “Makery” within the College of Education, to provide students and teachers alike with the resources to design, set up, program, and use computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines to create practical solutions for real problems. The success of this pilot project led researchers to develop the concept of the classroom Makery along with a teacher-training program, and to apply for funding. The program was designed to use hands-on creative projects to prepare students for careers in high-intellectual-value industries based on STEM disciplines as well as for the so-called “blue collar” careers as operators and programmers in the broad range of industries that are adopting computer-based manufacturing systems.