Producing, creating, manufacturing, designing, redesigning, recreating, identifying, specifying, and otherwise making anything is at the heart of the maker movement. Engaging youth as makers can mean empowering them with the resources to build what they want, what communities need, and what the world is calling for.
The best way to predict the future is to invent it. — Alan Kay
Ways Youth can Change the World by Making and Producing
Youth as Builders — When youth are engaged as builders, they are creating, designing, assembling and manufacturing things the world needs. They may make devices, computer programs, instruments, mechanisms or other technology. These things can change the world when they answer unmet social needs.
Youth Construction — Constructing the physical spaces humans live in in an example of youth as makers. They may design and build parks, buildings, indoor spaces, outdoor places and other areas humans and nature occupy, literally changing the world and compelling people to live better, do better and be better through intention.
Youth Internships — Working with adults as learning interns can allow young people to build their knowledge and skills while contributing to maker works. Whether happening in the textile arts, metalwork, woodwork, or technology, maker internships should be focused on youth/adult partnerships that recognize young people teach and learn while adults learn and teach, and that in maker culture, it’s never an either/or situation.
Things Youth Need to Change the World through Making and Producing
Technology — Practical training and unique exposures to a range of applications and organizations can allow young people to use technology to in powerful, meaningful and substantive ways. Where 3-D printers can allow young people to design physical objects like prosthetic limbs and housing materials in real time, handheld devices can allow them to create apps and construct physical spaces on their own.
Maker Spaces — Maker spaces are places with people, tools and opportunities for youth to become makers. Through equipment, community, and education, young people can design, prototype and create things they might not be able create otherwise. Providing access is key to maker spaces, and young people’s engagement and empowerment can be a key to making them work for everyone.
Training — Training young people how to make things, whether through manufacturing, creation, or otherwise, can engage youth voice in exciting new ways. Building the skills and knowledge of young people is vital, and can compel young people to get engaged and change the world!
- Youth as Media Makers
- Youth as Farmers
- Youth as Consumers
- The Freechild Project Short Introduction to Youth Engagement in the Economy by Adam Fletcher
- Invent to Learn by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager
- YoungMakers – Participants ages 8-18 and of varying backgrounds, interests, and skill levels, work together in small clubs throughout the season to design and make a youth-chosen, open-ended project, culminating in an opportunity to share and exhibit at a showcase event.
- YouthBuild – In programs across the United States and across the globe, low-income young people learn construction skills to help build affordable housing and other community assets such as community centers and schools.
- “Youth inclusive product development” by Youth Economic Opportunities
- “Youth producers” by Central Washington Animal Agriculture Team
- “Simphony Productions” by Youth Impact HUB Oakland
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in making and producing in your community or organization, contact us.