EVENT: How to build a Maker ecosystem in your region

580 200 John Guenther

Participants at the 2016 reMAKE Education Summit (Photo: Fabrice Florin/Flickr)

The power of the “maker” movement in combining tech, creativity, and entrepreneurship and cultivating STEAM education will be on display right before this year's California Economic Summit in Santa Rosa.

At one of four special partner events taking place around the Summit, participants will get to learn about how Sonoma County has built a maker “ecosystem” involving schools from K-12 to college, local makerspaces, plus employers.

The Maker Ecosystem: Transforming Economic & Workforce Development” takes place on November 14 and attendees get to see the ecosystem in action at the 15,000 sq. ft. makerspace in 180 Studios in Santa Rosa. A reception will follow the event. REGISTER HERE

We asked Dan Blake, director of innovation and partnerships for the Sonoma County Office of Education, about the importance of the maker movement in educating and training a workforce that can thrive and grow a region's economy:

CA Economic Summit: What do you want leaders to take away from this event?

We want leaders to understand the important role that a healthy and vibrant maker ecosystem involving schools, nonprofits, community makerspaces, and the business community can play in preparing the workforce to meet the changing demands of today’s workplace.

How does the focus of your event help boost regional prosperity?

The skills, knowledge, and mindsets required for success in today’s economy do not align with the traditional educational approaches employed in most schools and colleges. By embracing and supporting maker education and building a cross-sector “ecosystem” to support its development, regions can begin to build a homegrown workforce that will fuel economic prosperity for decades to come. Having this ecosystem in place involving K-12 education, higher education, nonprofit organizations, and business and industry partners also allows for greater agility and nimbleness when responding to specific shifts in workforce demands.

Who should join the event?

K-12 and postsecondary education leaders, public policymakers, business leaders, nonprofit representatives, and funders will all benefit from gaining a better understanding of the maker movement and how to build support for it in their local area.

What inspires you about the solutions and ideas to be featured during the event?

There is a great deal of conversation these days about the importance of the “4 Cs” (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical Thinking) in today’s workplace. The maker movement addresses these critical skills and mindsets in a way that nothing else in my 25-plus years in education has done. By providing age-appropriate experiences throughout the educational pipeline in the four key areas of making (Hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math; Coding & Physical Computing; Digital Manufacturing; and Digital Media & Documentation), communities can build a home-grown workforce with the skills, knowledge, and mindsets necessary for a thriving regional economy.

Any other important details people should know about the region or the event?

Sonoma County has had the great fortune of being the home of Dale Dougherty, founder of Maker Faire, Make magazine, and Maker Media, and the acknowledged father of the “maker movement.” As a result, we have been on the leading edge of embracing making and maker education over the past decade. The Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) was the first county office in the State of California to create a makerspace specifically for teacher training and to hire a full-time curriculum coordinator for maker education. SCOE also partnered with Sonoma State University to launch the first of its kind Maker Educator Certificate Program in 2014.

The program has certified over 400 teachers since that time and has been recognized by the White House as a model for supporting maker education efforts in schools, libraries, and nonprofit organizations. In 2016, SCOE hosted the first of what has become an annual national summit on maker education called the reMAKE Education Summit. Sonoma County is also home to two vibrant community makerspaces, 180 Studios and Chimera Arts, that provide dynamic environments for multi-generational collaboration that support the teaching, learning, and practicing of industrial arts, creative arts, engineering, and design.

Find out more about the Maker Movement event and more at the 2018 California Economic Summit Event site and get registered today!


John Guenther

All stories by: John Guenther