FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Though Maker Sense has been in development for several years, we realize the vast majority of visitors to this site will be unfamiliar and thus are likely to have a plethora of questions. Some of these questions are posed every day, while there will unquestionably be others that we may not have considered yet.
Below are some of the questions we receive frequently. We will endeavor to update this FAQ’s list as often as we can, and we welcome your input.
If your question is not addressed below, please feel free to contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is Maker Sense in any way connected to 3P Learning or Mathletics?
SHORT ANSWER: Maker Sense is in no way directly connected to, or affiliated with 3P Learning or any of the 3P learning content products such as Mathletics.
However, Nicola Herringer (one of the Maker Sense co-founders), served as Head of Primary Publishing at 3P Learning for nearly 12 years.
LONGER ANSWER: Nicola was instrumental in the Mathletics content creation, underlying pedagogical approach, and vision, thus contributing significantly to the product quality and success of Mathletics/3P Learning.
Nicola’s decision to forge a new path and co-found Maker Sense in 2017 was motivated by a number of contributing factors, including her experiences as a Primary School teacher in Australia and the United Kingdom, as well as her highly-regarded tenure as one of the “guiding lights” for the Mathletics content, from its early days up through and beyond the 3P Learning IPO.
Sensing a shift in the needs of 21st Century pedagogy, Nicola began to ponder her next challenge during 2015. One clear shortcoming appeared in the form of the myriad difficulties associated with the meaningful integration of the ever-increasing palette of those subjects/disciplines/learning areas requiring unprecedented connection between the sciences and the humanities; it seemed like there was room for another approach, especially for the younger audience. And so in 2015, Nicola began forming the vision for what would become Maker Sense.
She chose to augment her unique professional pedigree by allowing her own connection to 3D Design, STEM/STEAM technologies (outside of the maths-based silo she was globally recognized for…) to build a platform to embrace, explore and share the significance and criticality of what it means to be “a Maker”. The overarching vision for this platform was that it would not only integrate the rewarding expression of creativity as it serves deeper pedagogical outcomes, but would also contribute to the critical mission of arming the next generations with the expanded skill sets and associated agency they will require to address the world they will inherit.
Is Maker Sense in any way connected to Autodesk?
SHORT ANSWER: No, Maker Sense is in no way directly connected to, or affiliated with Autodesk, or any of the Autodesk content products such as Tinkercad®.
LONGER ANSWER – in regard to Tinkercad®:
The longer-term development road map for Maker Sense includes significant custom software development for content, services and assessment tools, as well as the extension of the design-centric content we have started with. These extensions will include a range of complementary cross-disciplinary subjects, that would be commonly grouped into the STEM/STEAM, Science and Technology/Design Tech area.
We chose to start with content connected to Tinkercad® after evaluating several options (including custom development or an abstracted version of OpenSCAD) because it is ubiquitous in schools around the globe, freely available, and would thus lower barriers to entry for the largest possible group of stakeholders and provide the greatest potential of delivering learning value.
We also use it extensively.
However, the main reason we chose to start with Tinkercad®-centric content, was that we did not want to “teach the tool” (or for that matter to teach others to teach the tool…). We wanted to pursue the path that would allow us to play to our individual and collective strengths, leveraging tools and output systems that we ourselves had been using and were most representative of the audience we chose to address first. We knew that this starting point would promote the greatest level of all-important component of empathy for the teacher, as well as for the student/user, and would allow us to focus on the underlying skills of design, and the associated pedagogy that we felt had yet to be effectively addressed.
Of course, Autodesk provides some truly exceptional Tinkercad® content of their own, and there are other 3rd party sources available as well. However, we felt that we could add unique value, by building content that facilitated agency, and promoted learning through a competency-based approach that made use of a 3rd party technology/software package, but was designed to be “brand-agnostic”, and emphasized transferable skills.
We would be flattered to get a “nicely done” comment from Autodesk at some point, and we have every intention of continuing to reference, integrate and therefore implicitly “promote” their products (we will release content that references Fusion 360® in the near future… ) but we will continue to stay committed to the idea of “the best tool for the job, selected from those currently available”, so that the student, teacher or other user of our content and extended platform gets the best possible learning value and experience.
The content embodied in the “3D Printing Projects Book – Volume 1” is just the beginning for Maker Sense, stay tuned.
Is Maker Sense in any way connected to any manufacturer of technology ?
SHORT ANSWER: No, Maker Sense is in no way directly connected to, affiliated with, funded by, or beholden to any manufacturer of hardware or technology products.
Not-so-short (indeed, rather verbose) answer:
There is no substitute for figuring how to do things the “wrong way” to provide a clear path to doing things right, or at least a clear pathway to doing things better.
Some of us had previously been involved in a Technology/Robotics startups beginning circa 2011.
It was these very experiences that unequivocally demonstrated to us that it was possible to either build quality hardware with great support OR to create high-value content as a “value-add” to that hardware, but that trying to do both was essentially a “zero-sum” game.
- And the content would almost always lose out to the far more capital-intensive hardware development and marketing needs.
- We’d actually experienced trying to create content that would support the hardware designs we were involved with, and it just didn’t work, so getting into Maker Sense we knew “what not to do”.
- Other than the creation of technical/user support documentation, we encountered a natural, and unavoidable conflict of interest in ANY situation where a hardware manufacturer was creating content.
Manufacturer-created content would…
- Be looked upon as “marketing afterthought”, with its integrity consistently compromised by the need to emphasize the importance of a tool as opposed to the underlying skill that would enable someone to extract transferable value from their experiences with that tool, or other similar (competing) tools.
- Naturally need to promote the superiority of that manufacturer’s tool, even if this approach would not best-serve the consumer of the content.
- Always be subservient to the need to sell hardware, and thus would always lack transparency.
- Need to obfuscate flaws and shortcomings in the product and workflow, sometime in a manner that felt a bit too “used-car sales person-esque” for our tastes.
- Never have adequate resources or company focus to do the right level of work.
- Have its resource allocation cut in times of budgetary constraints, and scrutiny before/during acquisition
In addition to the above (if you’re still reading then you deserve to know the rest…), we’d always considered the provision of peripheral production services as well as the ability to transparently reference the best solutions for the objective, regardless of where those solution/components were made or who benefitted, as vital to the work we wish to achieve. Realizing from our experiences that such an approach is counterintuitive to the sale of certain products, we made the conscious choice several years ago to make every effort to be “tool/product agnostic”.
In which territories will Maker Sense be available and when?
Maker Sense began beta-testing early in 2018 in APAC. The first content will become available in Australia, New Zealand and those surrounding territories adhering to a Southern Hemisphere school schedule in Q4 of 2018 to deploy at the beginning of the 2019 school year.
Some testing and evaluation of content North America, the UK and portions of the EU is already underway, as well as discussions with those entities/stakeholders who would be able to effectively represent, support and contribute to the ongoing evolution and improvement the platform in those territories.
- We expect to have physical books available in the US by late 2018, though the complementary digital content that will be harmonized to NGSS, CC and other relevant standards will follow in 2019.
- Spanish language translations will likely be first off the rank, so partners in Central/Latin/South America as well as Spanish speaking EU regions will hopefully get on-boarded in 2019, depending upon whether they follow a Northern or Southern Hemisphere school schedule.
- Other ASEAN and Middle East regions are on the 2020 road map at present.
We have established dialog for representation in other territories, including many that will require foreign language translations of all relevant content, but we would encourage those interested in cooperation to contact us at: email@example.com.
Or just fill out the contact form, which you can navigate to clicking on this link:
How can I acquire Maker Sense books and access to digital resources?
At present, Maker Sense books will only be available through specialized Education Supplier entities in each territory. Please contact us for a referral in your territory or if you wish to enquire in regard to acting as a distributor.
Digital resources will also be available through these same sources, however access to digital content for the remainder of 2018 is only available to Foundation Partners.
If you are interested in becoming a Foundation Partner, we will be expanding that program and would like to know of your interest.
Please let us know by using this form and we will be in touch shortly after we receive your contact.
What age groups/educational stages is the Maker Sense Platform designed to address?
SHORT AMSWER: Maker Sense Phase -1 content and services has been planned, designed and tested to address school years 5 thru 8.
However, we have received many requests to test the content with years 4 and below, and to extend to create content that will address lower high school in a more thorough manner.
LONGER ANSWER: The insights gained from research and testing that commenced in 2015 dissuaded us from early allocation of resources towards the development of content to address ages within years 10/11/12, as we discovered a number of products that were already addressing that audience, some of which were doing it in a manner that we admired and agreed with. However, as good as some of those products are, we found them not to be particularly gender-neutral and to adhere to a traditional engineering focus, that does indeed become relevant in those years.
We felt, and do still feel strongly about the burgeoning shift away from traditional the implicit and explicit aspiration to professional specialization that drove 20th century economies and the educational systems that nurtured them. We like to think of this as more of the “Maker-Mindset” or problem-solving multi-disciplinary approach, but we are aware that the term “Maker” still invokes images of disorganized, “arts and crafts” projects for some, while others will dismiss a “Maker” as someone who didn’t have the “grit” to pay their dues battling tertiary higher mathematics and sciences education.
The terminology to effectively describe/understand how we humans will navigate the unprecedented conditions of the 21st century, but for those interested in just one of the multitude of sources that have informed our thinking on this subject we would direct you toward Tony Wagner’s superb work:
We are building a considerable repository of curated research on this and other relevant topics, that will initially be available only to Foundation Partners and Members, but we do hope to make that repository available to al once we get it set up, and linked properly.
Anyway, that is a rather verbose way of explaining that for the present, we will focusing our efforts on the audience referenced above and will leave the older, pure-engineering-focused audiences to those who are better equipped to provide genuine value than we are at present.
When will the Maker Sense Platform expand from the initial focus on 3D Design?
Several projects currently under development for the extended digital content and for subsequent physical books schedule for release in 2019 already include the integration of cross disciplinary learning, including:
- Simple DC electronic circuitry and components that do not require soldering
- The introduction to simple digital controller devices, micro controllers with accessible I/O connectivity, and sensors
- The introduction to fundamental concepts of logic as the basis for understanding computer logic and architecture
- Devices that enable very simple, as well as exceptionally complex “machines” to produce particular results based on electronic/electro-mechanical components like relays and logic gates
- Other simple systems that can represent or genuinely demonstrate concepts used in plant and factory automation and robotics systems
- The introduction to the instruction sets (programs) that enable software mediated devices (simple, or specialized computing platforms or general purpose computers running driver/editor software that compiles to a particular chipset) to act as control systems for hardware-mediated systems, a.k.a “code”.
We are fortunate to have unique subject matter expertise within our core team that we feel will enable us to design and deploy these extended resources in adherence to our core values of “ITEM” (Integrity, Transparency, Empathy and Mastery), and in a manner that will effectively scaffold and integrate with other content and resources.
We are equally fortunate to be able to rely on guidance and input from those in our professional/industry network who are accomplished engineers and inventors with many significant patents, and who either currently hold or formerly held senior technical/engineering and/or development positions building and running large teams with Fortune 500 entities like Qualcomm, Verizon and BMW, including electrical, chemical, mechanical, industrial, software and computer hardware and aerospace engineers as well as PhD computer scientists, roboticists. Laser Physicists, and experts in embedded systems architecture, and Additive Manufacturing.
Additionally, our advisory network includes those from relevant segments of the global education sector.
Once we have multi-disciplinary content that meets with our standards, those of our advisory network and that garners the approval from pour globally distributed network of teacher and other field testers, then the aforementioned Maker Sense content extensions will deploy.
What is a Foundation Partner?
SHORT ANSWER: A Foundation Partner is essentially a beta tester.
Nothing of value can be created in a vacuum, even by those who have a clear idea of what they wish to achieve. It is with this fundamental axiom in mind that we have asked/allowed certain schools/relevant entities, and those Subject Matter Experts in the global EDU, Maker and Technology communities to help us in the developmental stages of creating the content and services platform.
So what are the benefits?
Well for one, you get access to the content before others as long there is an understanding that it will initially be presented in a “work-in-progress” mode
- You get to participate in the development, commenting on the content structure and possibly influencing numerous components/dimensions
- You don’t spend as many years as we have involved in these professional activities and not end up meeting a number of exceptionally bright, switched-on people who want what you’re working on as soon as it is explained and there is a modicum of understanding as to the problems we’re focused on addressing;, so we do get a fair bit of, “we just want it NOW”.
- A long as the aforementioned/eager folks are willing to provide feedback and helpful input, we have created the Foundation Partner mechanism to facilitate the provision of content and services before they are necessarily “ready for prime time”, in exchange for a bit of help as we’re creating and fine-tuning; good things take time, but if those who will eventually become your suers are wiling to help, the timelines are often reduced and the end result is always better.
Does Maker Sense offer Professional Development that aligns with the content and platform?
No, not at this time, but the development of PD modules is a frequent request and would be a natural extension.
Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.
The design, testing and deployment of PD resources is not a trivial undertaking (well at least not to us).
Whatever PD resources we formulate would not only need to be certified with regional and territory-specific Education authorities/standards boards, but also would have to meet meet with our standards and Philosophy of our “I.T.E.M.” philosophy of Integrity,Transparency, Empathy and Mastery.
In many cases it is simply unrealistic to design PD that would fit within the limited time frame available for that vast majority of PD sessions (1 -2 days), especially in cases where the content would need to deliver fundamental technical knowledge prior to any content that would address the components of transfer content.