Making Science Hip

Deconstruction Zone

How do you get someone excited about the technology behind a computer processor? By breaking it down into smaller parts. Literally.

NYSCI’s Deconstruction Zone at last year’s World Maker Faire was so popular with kids and adults that it is being brought back for this year’s festival, which will be held on September 17 and 18. With screwdrivers and pliers, kids and adults at the 2010 World Maker Faire took apart computer and electronic equipment with a goal of, well, to take apart computer and electronic equipment. And they had a blast doing it. Clearly someone forgot to tell them that it was a form of science education.

In this age of standardized tests, rote memorization, and textbooks, it’s easy to see why most students dread their science and math classes. Where, really, is the fun in traditional science and math education? But taking apart electronics? Now, that sounds fun! 

And having fun can lead to a deeper exploration of the sciences. In a recent PBS Newshour show, Dale Dougherty, editor and publisher of Make magazine and founder of Maker Faire, said

“I see making as a gateway to engineering and science. When I talk to engineers and scientists, I can ask them, what fascinated you as a kid? And someone said, well, you know, I used to take refrigerators apart.” 

World Maker Faire has hundreds of these kind of fun opportunities for visitors. The two-day event brings together hundreds of “Makers” who show off their inventions and encourage visitors to become Makers themselves and to create, build and invent. In the process, they show us the “fun” in science, technology and math. When you see trendy people with their cool inventions, suddenly science and technology doesn’t seem so boring or geeky anymore. And when you get to invent your own cool products, a career choice in the sciences seems not only possible, but appealing.

NYSCI has been exploring ways to harness the spirit of “making” to increase interest in the sciences. NYSCI and Maker Faire staff worked to ensure that the inaugural World Maker Faire included a large range of activities for children and families. And after the festival, NYSCI hosted a two-day workshop with more than 80 leaders in education, science, technology and the arts to explore how the Maker movement can stimulate innovation in education.

This year’s Faire will be even bigger than last year, with hundreds of additional Makers and even more activities for children and families. And more opportunities to show kids and adults, that science is fun—whether or not you keep your computer in one piece.