Before attending CrossRoads, Infosys Foundation USA’s annual conference focused on computer science and maker education, my colleague Amy Greene and I were not sure what to expect. We were invited because we won an Infy Maker award, which will enable us to continue to bring more high quality maker centered learning experiences to the youth and families who spend time at our museum in New Mexico and through professional development opportunities for local educators.
As a bilingual educator, CrossRoads was a wonderful opportunity to meet people from diverse backgrounds who are working in CS and maker education, including fellow educators, policymakers and school administrators. People from different cities and communities united in a dynamic forum to improve computational science, making and STEM in and outside of the classroom.
I was able to meet some of my geek heroes like computing pioneer Cynthia Solomon, Jie Qie, co-founder of Chibitronics and Tom Lauwers, creator of the Hummingbird Robotics Kit. I also gained insights from individuals overseeing makerspaces sharing their successes and challenges and an engineer teaching young girls programing in a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment.
An additional benefit to winning the Infy Maker award was to attend the Pathfinders Summer Institute (July 15-20, 2018), I had the opportunity to roll up my sleeves as part of this professional development experience, along with fellow Explora educator, Daniel Stromberg. In the Maker Educator Collective Bootcamp, we explored the different ways that educators can creatively bring the Maker Movement to more students, even with limited resources. We learned about different ways to document and share the projects we develop as educators and helpful ways to document the progress that our students make along the way.
These experiences at Pathfinders reinforced my beliefs that humility and knowledge are a powerful combination that can inspire you to continue to learn and improve. It can give you the courage to ask the difficult questions that provide you with the tools, knowledge and resources to improve a service or program you’ve developed.
Back at Explora, we are using many of the tools that we learned at the conference, already testing different activities, convening a maker team and gathering encouraging feedback from our guests. The opportunity to be a part of the Infosys Foundation USA’s community of makers and computer science educators has benefited our whole organization across all of our teams, and ultimately our community we are serving!