There are countless moments in my work when I get to truly appreciate why I do what I do. I’m lucky that way. Because we work directly with kids, I see the impact of maker learning experiences first-hand, through the often-emotional responses of the kids, teachers, and parents themselves. Last Saturday was one of those moments.
We hosted a day-long event for Teen Innovators, a newly-developed program for high school students where they hone their skills as makers while receiving direct support from industry volunteers to understand how these skills relate to the world of work.
These are teens we know well – they volunteer with us on Sundays to greet visitors and help younger kids and their families engage in our programs. We’ve known some of them since they were in elementary school, engaging in KID curriculum as they grew up.
At the Teen Innovator event, these young people presented their projects to their peers, parents, and industry leaders, and as they spoke about the program, a theme emerged: the importance of connecting with others.
“It taught me about working with others and what it takes to bring an idea to life,” said one student.
“I developed friendships with people I never would have met otherwise, and I learned so much about myself,” said another.
The Joy in Learning Together
KID Museum was created to support joy in learning and provide students with the skills needed to meet the demands of a fast-changing economy. My focus was not only on the technical skills, but on the power of human connection – community working together to drive student success.
We’ve partnered with local teachers and schools to move the needle on student outcomes – with increased engagement in learning, improved performance in math, and increased confidence as learners. Teachers likewise have grown with us – rediscovering joy in the classroom and building skills to support their students’ growth and development. And we’ve partnered with so many community groups and industry leaders to expand access to joyful learning that builds identity and a sense of belonging.
We started 2023 with a celebration of our middle school students who design inventions to make the world a better place. Over months, they build skills in engineering design, coding, electronics, and more. But when asked what they gained most from this experience, they said:
"Getting to work with people I knew – and didn’t know – to create something I’m really proud of."
"Creating the project with my friends, and having fun doing it.”
“I learned that I am much better with a group than by myself.”
The importance of connection. It’s this deeply human desire to connect, to share, to create together, that powers learning and community. As we move into 2024, I’m holding on to that foundation, just as I hold onto each of the moments with students, teachers, and families that drive home what it is that we do at KID Museum, and why we are doing it.