Americans need to learn how to discover, writes David Edwards in Wired. Over the next 20 years, as population rises by 2 billion people, we need to discover new ways to feed people, “new science, engineering, design, and architectural methods, and pioneer economic models” to deal with climate change, “new approaches to medical treatment” and so on.
A new kind of learning by doing is catching on, writes Edwards, who teaches a class called “How to Create Things and Have Them Matter” at Harvard.
Sometimes discovery learning is called maker classes, after-school innovation programs or innovation prizes, he writes. “Discovery environments are showing up as culture and entertainment, from online experiences to contemporary art installations and new kinds of culture labs.”
The ArtScience Prize lets students “learn the thrill of discovering the undiscovered.”
The maker movement is reinventing education, according to Newsweek. At High Tech High’s network of San Diego charter schools, learning happens mostly through “kids making, doing, building, shaping and inventing stuff,” says CEO and founding Principal Larry Rosenstock.
Stanford’s design program, known as the d. school, is very cool. I toured the Product Realization Lab yesterday as part of Reunion Weekend. Students design, make a prototype, see what works, modify their design and, eventually make final products. Bending sheet metal changes students, said our guide, Jonathan Edelman, a consulting assistant professor in mechanical engineering. “It opens up their creativity.” So does silversmithing.
However, few students have the chance to take shop classes in middle or high school, Edelman said. Unless they’ve gone to maker fairs or competed in FIRST robotics, even would-be engineers don’t know how to turn a screwdriver.
The d.school welcomes students from art, architecture, biology and chemistry (think biomedical devices) and humanities and social science disciplines.