What is the Maker Movement and How Did Makerfest Celebrate It?
Makers are artists and authors, tinkerers and techies, hackers and housebuilders, environmentalists and engineers, dancers and DIYers, modelers and macrame-ers, cooks, crafters, and coders-- in other words, everyday people who express their creativity through a variety of avenues, making the world a better place in fun, curious, and always imaginative and innovative ways. Makerfest IS the people who come to converse, share, demonstrate, and participate, so every year is unique. What has made JSMF different from other events is that we are entirely experiential, completely inclusive, and 100% free. JSMF hasn't been about selling or showing, but doing and sharing.
How Makerfest Came to Be
The Toms River Regional Board of Education has exponentially increased its focus on technology, future readiness, and meaningful student and staff learning experiences for the past several years. Superintendent David Healy hit the ground running when he took the helm in 2014, promoting innovation as a means to kick start new ways of learning in a large public school district.
The organizers originally proposed an EdCamp with a makerspace at its core. As we have come to say it, "the makerspace ate the EdCamp" as the event evolved inside out, with learning surrounded by making. The founders reached out to their network of Awesome People (especially Larry Cocco, formerly of the Department of Education, who continues to advise and encourage) and naively cold contacted friendly strangers; the event quickly took shape based on their feedback. Armed with little more than a short description, vision, and lots of enthusiasm, makers and sponsors signed on, and JSMF15 became a success based on a belief in each other and the incredible ethos of selfless sharing that makers embody.
The Jersey Shore Makerfest Vision
At the core of this event has been the global maker movement and makerspace concept, in which attendees are not just witnesses to making, but experience it in an interactive, open ended, and often self directed environment, with a spirit of sharing, exploration, and fun.
Our vision has been to create a diverse and inclusive community whose members see themselves as creators, collaborators, innovators and makers of solutions.
Goals of the Jersey Shore Makerfest
- Provide a variety of hands-on, authentic, and enjoyable activities that engage people of all backgrounds, beliefs, ethnicities, abilities, disabilities, and age levels.
- Gain new understandings to improve teaching, learning, and citizenship in a global community.
- Articulate and experience the connections among diverse disciplines-- including science, technology, engineering, art, math, literacy, and civic involvement--to make learning and living more integrated and less artificially fragmented.
- Promote sustainable practices that foster awareness of our planet’s resources and the environment.
- Model the maker mindset to help communities create their own maker events and makerspaces that all can benefit from.
About the Founders
Marc Natanagara, Ed.D. was a high school science teacher for 12 years (and T.O.Y.) and has been a P-12 building and district administrator for 20 more. He conducts workshops, creates programs, develops partnerships, and has written and co-written nearly $3 million in successful grants over the past five years to improve education through authentic learning and the maker mindset. He consults on new programs and initiatives and can be reached at email@example.com .
Tiffany Lucey is the Supervisor of Educational Technology for Toms River Regional Schools. She helps teachers utilize technology in their classrooms, links curriculum with instruction, and communicates student needs with school leaders, consistently seeking alternative sources of funding. As a former Teacher of the Year for mathematics and computer science, she has become known for her interdisciplinary maker approach to learning and has presented at conferences (often with Marc) nationwide.