#knøtselen The presentation

ChOCya8WgAAtGLFIk heb echt even getwijfeld. Ik moest voor het eerst een stevige presentatie in het Engels doen. Eigenlijk zelfs de eerste zo lange presentatie over Maken en Leren. Ik spreek best wat Engels, ik lees het veel maar schrijven is “another cook” zoals Van Gaal ooit zei.


Een belangrijk onderdeel van “Het nieuwe maken” is delen en ik moedig onze leerlingen ook aan hun maaksels op Instructables te zetten (zoals Jort en Seef die veel succes hebben met hun “Infinity Mirror Box).

Dus bij deze. Een tekst met de plaatjes van de presentatie. De enkele animatie die erin zat is er uit en slide 18 en 19 waren filmpje en die staan er in. Achteraan staat nog de slideshare.

Mocht je de aanvechting hebben iets te willen zeggen over mijn Engels, doe dat dan even via een mail aan arjan@makered.nl. Als je feedback wil geven op de inhoud, doe dit dan onderaan bij de comments. Dank je!

Make it happen!




“Sir, can I please stay for another ten minutes?” A sentence not often heard at our schools nowadays. But when my students are making things the urge to stay and finish what they are doing is very clear. And when children really want to make a product, they will learn everything that is needed to complete their task.

My talk will be about just that: how can we provide our schools, our education with a rich playground in which our children want to make real stuff, using all the skills and competences that they need, whether they are of 17th century or of 21st century origin?

Of course companies can join in this effort. Because what we, as a society, companies included, need in the near future is children who are optimistic and are not afraid to try and make this world a better place by designing and making things, by doing inventions. That is what gives me energy every day to do what I do.



Let me tell a little bit about myself. Foremost I am a teacher. For more than twenty years I teach the children at the High School De Populier in The Hague the art of doing physics. I love my subject, I love teaching and every day I ride my bike to meet my great students. It is really the best job a man can have, making the difference for some children.

In my school I also lead the Science section. Furthermore I am the chairman of the Advisory Council of  LeerKRACHT, an initiative to help schools to implement a culture of improvement in their schools. At this moment more than 10% of all students in The Netherlands are working along the LeerKRACHT lines. I am also a member of the Advisory Board of the Foundation named Klooikoffers, which is an initiative of Astrid Poot to bring Making back in primary schools. Or better at home for primary school children. You can translate Klooikoffers as “Tinkering boxes”. Boxes children can take home. In the box there are tools and materials and inspiring examples. It is very successful: the foundation just recently teamed up with Conrad Electronics (which is active in Denmark too). Hundreds of Boxes are shipped now to 100’s of children.

Another small but important job I have is chairing the jury of the Leraren Ontwikkelfonds: the Teacher Development Fund. Every year me and my team we can play Santa Claus. €4.000.000 a  year (30.000.000 Danish crones)  is dedicated to the development of teachers. Teachers can apply for an individual or team grant ranging from €4.000 (30.000 DK) and €75.000 (half a million DK). This funded by the central government.

But the reason I am here, doing this keynote is that since this school year I am, as they call it “trailblazer” Maker Education. In a team of five, of which three of us are here, we try to persuade, seduce, convince teachers, schools, school leaders, politicians, parents to establish more Making in schools, more Maker Education. Later on, I will tell more about that and what our experiences are.



At the end of my talk you can ask me questions of course. I would also like to get lots of feedback. To prove that I am serious about that, here is a picture of an article in a National Newspaper. The headline says: “Stupid teacher? Push the red button!” It is a story about a feedback machine that I am building with which my students can vote whether my class had swag today. You see, I am a maker myself and I really like to get as much feedback as possible. The only drawback is, that when you type in Google “Stomme leraar” which means “Stupid Teacher”, the first hit is… me. But don’t let that bother you to give me feedback. Through my twitter account, e-mail or any other means of communication.


Outline of my talk

I will roughly discuss three things:

  • MAKE. What is Maker Education? And, why do we have to do it?
  • IT The “IT”-part is about what we do at our school. What is Maker Education like with us.
  • HAPPEN. And Happen is about what should happen and what can we do to make that happen?




First what is it that we are talking about? What is Maker Education? The nature of the Maker Movement from which it stems is very anarchistic and loose. So Maker Education doesn’t have a firm definition either. But we have to limit what is included. Is cooking Making? Drawing? Acting in a play. As Paulo Blikstein said recently: “If it is everything, it is nothing.” And in the same session someone suggested: “Making is making something that works. Or could work for that matter.” I will try to stick with that.

Let’s see what characterizes Modern Making in schools. I see three important notions:


In The Netherlands but I can imagine it happened here in Denmark too, making, tinkering has silently left the schools. The cognitive skills became more and more important and they moved aside the time reserved for learning to do things with your hands. And, as a rule, this reverses. The Maker Movement is a part of a general movement where we wanted to be more in control of what we do, eat, and consume, think of the using local products instead of flown in vegetables from Africa, foraging your own food, like your world famous chef Redzepi does. But also the rise of repair cafes, more people doing handiwork like knitting. Arne and Carlos from Norway lead the way. The point of view of me and my colleagues is that if you want to be a Maker Educator, you should be a Maker. You should have experienced and still experience what it is, Making. You should bump into the same things your students bump into. And you should make things that matter to you. Because that is important: making things that you want to make. Then you learn the most. As you understand this makes that a Maker Educator has a different job than a regular educator.


Do it with others. Another important foundation beneath Maker Education is established by the internet. Makers all around the world share their experiences and celebrate each other’s great inventions. Our students connect with makers all over the world and Dutch makers visit our Maker Space. That sense of community, the democratic way in which makers can communicate and help each other out is very, very important for Maker Education. It doesn’t mean you should always work in groups. When you check out the most important collaborative Maker site: Instructables, you see that most projects are made by a single person. Of course, working together is an important skill but that doesn’t have to be the case in every project. We have the obligation to make an environment at school in which our students can find out what their talents are, what kind of mistakes they make and what they like to do most or what they despise to do. So, do it with others but make your own product. 

3 Tool up

And third and last: the tools. In recent years the tools to make things have become increasingly available, affordable and easy to use. 3D printers, laser cutters, all kinds of microprocessors like The Arduino, the Raspberry Pi. In the early days, when you wanted to make something you fist had to learn a lot of skills. To make a straight kerf by hand is really, really hard. But with a laser cutter it is has become a piece of cake. And so the distance between what you want to make and what you can make is significantly reduced.

Good tools are expensive. Without the modern, expensive tools, Maker Education is still possible, of course. As Gary Stager says “The best makerspace is between your ears.” But on the other hand, we live in the western world, we Denmark and The Netherlands are amongst the richest countries in the world. And when we say education is important then we should put our money where our mouths are. Our children are entitled to a rich, playful learning environment. And we, adults have to fight to establish that.



So now that we see that is possible, why should we do it? Why should we start and steal precious hours back of the hard won math or language hours? An important question because change is hard especially in education. I think a lot of you are already convinced that we should do it. I hope for you that I provide you with some more arguments.


Reason 1: Inventors

First of all we need inventors. Not primarily because we have to get richer but because we have to provide them with tools, skills, knowledge to face the real big problems that we have made in this world. But making money isn’t prohibited obviously.


Reason 2: Understanding

Second of all Children need to understand technology. To make good choices. Do we want this, do we need this? What will happen? How to respond to the quick advance of the robots? Do you know these little things? They are called Amazon Dash. Little buttons you put on your washing machine or beside your bed. If you run out of washing powder, you just push the button. The button is connected to you WiFi network and Amazon takes care of delivering a new box of washing powder on your doorstep the next day. I think when you know how to make an IoT (internet of Things) thing yourself, you know better what to think of such a system. Do you really want Amazon to know how often you wash your clothes?


Reason 3: Motivation

Third, and this lies close to my heart, It is a very stimulating way of educating. As I told before, we oftentimes have to tell our students to leave because we want to go home. And motivation is a one of the biggest problems in education in The Netherlands. The quality of our education is great, and our children are amongst the happiest children in the world. But they don’t like going to school. I looked it up. The Netherlands is always around number 10 worldwide in the PISA worldwide educational ratings, and the sole number one considering happy children.  But we score just average on motivation. And Denmark is quite the same.


Reason 4: Focus

Four, Making brings back focus. I already saw some members of the audience peek at their smartphone and I recognize that. Being concentrated for a long period of time is becoming increasingly difficult. But it is important that we give our children the chance to feel, to experience how it is when you are in focus. Making does that to children. Makers in this audience know how it is. You can easily lose a lot of hours when you are concentrated to make something. I myself cherish those hours.


Reason 5: Finding your voice

Mitch Resnick, one of the inventors of the great programming language Scratch says that learning to code, to write a computer program is important because children “Can find their voice”. What he means by that, and I think it applies to making too, is that it gives the pupils another great way to express themselves, to show the world what they think, feel and want. Every child learns to write. Not to become a professional writer, but to be able to tell other people things. Making and coding by the way are also means of expression.


Reason 6: Learning

And sixth, maybe most important, they learn. When you make something that you really want to finish you make sure you learn everything that you need to know. I am a graduated physicist, teaching for more than 20 years. But only recently I understood the finesses of a transistor. I needed to know that for my swagometer. This last one is also the most difficult one. Because the learning isn’t the same as learning from direct instruction or a textbook and because of that is is also tricky to compare these entities. I really do hope that scientists like Ole will shed light on this subject.


21st century skills

This is the model that we in The Netherlands use for the so called 21st century skills. I am a bit reluctant to use this phrase because I think Creativity or Communicating was as important in the 7th century as it is now. But as a framework to look at Maker Education for example it is useful. Many of the the skills are necessary when you want to make something. Of course you have to be creative, you have to find your way online to look for the resources you need, you have to cooperate with other people, you have to be critical, you have to solve numerous problems that you encounter and so on.  I would say, don’t make a subject in which you train these skills. Make assignments that are close to the heart of your students and they will master all the skills necessary to complete their task.




I like to start telling about our adventure at school in Maker Education almost ten years ago, the 31st of December 2006. My birthday. I turned 38 that year. My friend and colleague Marten Hazelaar came to celebrate my birthday (my wife can bake a great cake) and he brought me a present: a magazine. Called Make.  I thanked him, and I got him a beer. That night I studied the gifts I got and I thumbed through the magazine. And I couldn’t stop! It was so great. Makers telling proudly what they made. And not just showing of but also telling how you could make such a thing too. And they were very honest about what went wrong. Artists, craftsmen and women, prop makers, famous, modest, all kind of people with one thing in common: a passion for making and sharing. It really spoke to me. That was my first encounter with what is called The Maker Movement. I became a subscriber and an avid follower of all things involving that movement. You could say I was a passive member of the Maker Movement.


At the same time, we built what we called the Sciencestream. We offered students at our school a program of almost a day a week in which they could learn about the Sciences in a playful and hands-on. We combined the traditional subjects like physics, chemistry, biology, maths and technology. It was an instant success. Nothing like that was ever done in The Netherlands at that time and it was great fun. In this Sciencestream we had lots of projects and they always involved some making. For a project about light they made a pinhole camera and photographs of course, for a project called magic and optical illusions, they made a magic trick and so on.


We saw our students have lots of fun making things and we got kind of jealous. And so, I looked it up, on September 7 2009, on a Monday we had our first Plakken en Knippen meeting at our school. The translation is Paste and Cut like with the computer. The order is reversed. I checked it, that is my fault. Marten proposed Cut and paste and I wrote it the wrong way.

Anyway, from that moment we gather the first Monday of the month to make things at our school. First with four colleagues but these days we are sometimes a group of more than 12 people. Not only colleagues anymore but former students, former colleagues, friends, family, people who are joining in but we forgot how we got to know them. Everybody takes some food, some drinks and everybody is making things. Small or large things, electronic or wooden. Great gatherings that we call Maker Mondays.

One of those evenings, Per-Ivar, who is also here, noticed that something wonderful happened during these evenings: we were learning many things. And it didn’t feel like it. He said, we should bring this back to our students. And he did. Notice that it closed the circle, so to say. We got jealous of our students because they were making things, we started making things ourselves and then we brought it back. But we brought it back, slightly shifted. The big difference between the making they did and the making we were doing was that we were making things that we wanted to make, we tried to build things that were devised by ourselves, designed by ourselves and made by ourselves. And that was, as we saw it, a great power.


And it worked. We started small. We have a subject that has some time left at the end of the year and Per-Ivar started with what we called the Meesterproef, a conclusion of all that they learned during their time at our school. It was a great success and we expanded it to more classes and to more subjects.

The places where our students make things


  • Sciencestream 1: Here they make pinhole cameras and pictures, they build bridges with limited resources, they make cosmetics etc.


  • DIA 12: Sciencestream 2: The make Rube Goldbergmachines to learn about energy conversion. RG machines are machines that will do something but in in a lot of steps, not very efficient. They also make a LED object after they have been taught about electricity; the products often look very nice. Jewellery is also part of the program. They learn a about chemistry and melting. After that they design and make a silver ring.


  • DIA 13: Sciencestream 3: In this year our students make rockets, first paper ones which they shoot with compressed air, we end with real rockets. Furthermore they make a bag. The designs are very different. A girl which we call gothic made a coffin bag but also LED bags are made or very pink ones. Since last year we have the project automata in which the students make an automaton. I just recently read that Babbage, who was one of the inventors of the computer was also an avid maker of automata.


  • DIA 14: Make History In class 3 our students do a history project in which they design an interactive monument. So they have to think about the historical component, what event is worthy of a monument? And then they have to make one which make a sound, moves or have lights.


  • DIA 15: The liver In class 2, the liver is a subject. In the words of my Biology colleague: “Boooooooring!” So he transformed the lessons into a Maker project in which the students have to explain the five functions of the liver. They make a puzzle, an electro game, a 3D print, a game, something they sow,…


  • DIA 16: Hack your school. Since this schoolyear Per-Ivar and our art teacher started a new subject. During this class our students have to hack their school. They have to do research and find out where in the school an improvement is necessary and then they have to work that out in a design. At the end of the year they have to present a finished hack. In a starting assignment they had to hack their class mates. They made glasses with colour printed eyes on it. To close your eyes behind.


  • DIA 17: MAKE Physics. This year for the second time, the students who choose Physics do a Maker project in the fifth class. They have to make something that relates to physics. That can be a measuring device or a magic trick or a machine with a physics principle involved or… There were some surprising good products.

  • DIA 18: Science camp cardboard show. In the year before they do their exams we take along on a multiple day filed trip our students. We visit a local brewery, a mine, we do measurements, we have lots of fun but we also make a lot of things. For example, we did a cardboard fashion show. The assignment: make a costume out of cardboard and surprise us. Klik voor MOVIE.

  • DIA 19: Meesterproef + FABclass. In the aforementioned Meesterproef the students in their final year show what they have learned in the years before. It gets better every year. That doesn’t surprise us obviously; we implement more and more Making in their curriculum. This year we saw an air hockey table, a 100 clock, Victoria Secret Wings, a great longboard, a working volcano and an Infinity Mirror box.
  • Our sandpit is our FABclass. On Friday afternoons, more than thirty students gather and make what they want to make. Old school, vs working with cutting edge technology: everything is possible. We have lots of fun. KLIK voor MOVIE

So we are getting quite experienced. That doesn’t mean we know how it must be done. As most teachers will tell you, the longer you teach, the better you know that you don’t know much. We are not only makers in the way that we are making things, we are also maker in the way that we are tinkering our lessons. And the way I see it, is that if you are not willing to do that you can’t be a maker educator.




I have to make clear: I am an evangelist of Maker Education. I fell in love with making and Maker Education. Because I see every day what it does at school for our students. It is not only the fact that they learn, become more skilful or better capable of solving problems. That is true. But I also see happy children, strong and full of confidence. I have got a few examples of that but I will show them at the end of my talk. To send you away with a good feeling!

So I think all students should get the opportunity to have to become a Maker.  And I know that many of you feel the same. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here.  So, how do we do that then? What do we have to make happen? Where do we start?



Maybe it’s good to start at the end. Where do we want to get? What is the ideal Maker Education World? I have spent a lot of time thinking about that and talking with all kinds of people about it. I will tell you what my dream is.


Dia22When I stare in my crystal ball I see a complete ecosystem of Maker places. I see in every Primary school in Denmark and The Netherlands a making studio with all kinds of tools. Not only fancy technological tools but also old school saws, hammers, needles and so. And lots of material, like cardboard. And for the children it is just as normal to do sums or do language exercises, as it is to make something. There is a always a teacher at hand to help the children.


In Secondary schools you will find a full-fledged Makerspace. The focus is here on digital fabrication with laser cutters, CNC machines, fast 3D printers, sewing and embroidering machines, lots of electronics, an abundance of computers. Always available for the students also or maybe especially in the hours after class. There is great technical assistance. There is also plenty of room to design and collaborate with other students. It is just as usual process the things you learn by writing an essay as it is to design and make something. Of course it also possible to make something as an assignment from someone outside of the school.

Dia24For children who want to make even more than is provided at school the libraries all have a great and modern Maker Space. Young and old gather there to learn from each other. Old crafts like wood working or textile techniques alongside modern day technologies like 3D printing. People learning from each other and working on neighbourhood projects. And every city has one or more very open Maker Spaces where starting entrepreneurs can prototype, companies can test new products, where makers can meet artists, where synergy isn’t a fashionable word but an everyday reality.



What role do the companies play in this ecosystem? I recently read a great book: The Innovators, written by Walter Isaacson, a story about the inventors of the computer and the internet. What struck me was that almost everyone who played a major role in the rise of the computer and the internet was a maker in their youth and often also as an adult. Even the last real internet hero, Tim Berners-Lee, who is the father of the World Wide Web, liked to work with his hands. So the first thing I would say is that companies benefit from a making environment because of the fact that children who tinker, who make in their youth, can grow out to be real inventors. The value of the world wide web cannot be overestimated in all senses. And every day we should be grateful that Berners Lee was a stubborn man and convinced his bosses at CERN that they shouldn’t do what the legal department of CERN really wanted to do: patent the World Wide Web. He won and we benefit from that every day. So be patient, don’t ask too much of schools and let children play, tinker, gain confidence, efficacy and then, when they work for you, they will make you rich.

How can companies help out? In my opinion the role of companies should be modest. If you are a parent, think more like a parent. Make sure your children can make stuff at home and try to convince the school of your children to establish a makerspace. And if they do that, help them out. Help designing and building it, help them get funding. And if it’s there, help the school by providing leftover materials, maybe even machines. You could also come up with questions, assignments. But you have to be careful. There are a lot of schools in The Netherlands who, under the name of Technasium do a kind of Maker Education in which they always have an assignment of a company or an institution. They say that is makes it real then. I have two objections. First, I think you shouldn’t bother 12 to 17 year olds too much with the real world. Let them play and find their own voice. And secondly, when I visit a school like that, I see a lot of scale models and very seldom it leads to a real product. That is only logical, students don’t have all the skills and knowledge to solve those problems. The drawback is that it isn’t real then.

FABlabs and teachers

If you think our students are entitled to good Maker Education then that means that their teachers, their coaches maybe, should have Maker Educator Skills. I once spoke Sylvia Martinez, author of Invent to Learn, the Maker Education bible and asked her: “Should a Maker Education Teacher be a maker?” She replied right away: “Should a Maths teacher be a mathematician. Yes, of course.”

So more teachers have to become Makers, have to master the skills they want their students to master, have to go through the same peril the students will go through when you really want to make something.


Dia26As I told you at the beginning, I am a member of The Platform Maker Education in The Netherlands. A group of people from a schools, the FABlabs and the libraries. We are a group partially funded by the government and real bottom up operators. In this school year, 2015/2016 we have done a large number of things to get Maker Education going in The Netherlands. We climbed a lot of stages, wrote articles and organized meetings. We also have gathered some scientists who are doing research. And we try to educate teachers. Starting teachers by providing them with vouchers. A voucher, worth 500 euro (about 4000 DK), can be used to do an educational program with teachers and or students oftentimes in a FABlab. We had financial room for about fifty vouchers and they were all gone within two months.

Dia27Furthermore, we have organized three meetings with teachers and school leaders who are already into Maker Education. Those meetings were great (we had two) and very inspiring. We talk about the best way to implement Maker Education, new lesson materials, stuff to buy and so and so on. Last week we had one in a Makerspace in a former prison in Leeuwarden and we had a blast. The Platform Maker Education is very successful and we try to scale up more next year.

And just to remind you why we do this, what happens when we make this happen three examples of the last weeks.


Severiano and Jort made the Infinity Box which you saw in the movie. They made an Instructable and in two days it got more than a hundred likes, more than a thousand views and it was featured. Today it’s almost 250 likes and 600 views. Two very proud 17 year olds!


Benjamin is a former student who at the last moment got the Maker flu. He is studying business, made a prototype in our school and is now a successful startup entrepreneur who is selling his CookingClip in the most prestigious warehouse in The Netherlands, the Bijenkorf.


And Victor is one of our Making stars. His story got picked up and two weeks ago he spoke to more than 1000 spectators at TEDxDelft about why Making is good for students and he did a great suggestion: 20% of school time dedicated to Making! Of course we were there beaming with pride and my friend and colleague Per-Ivar said. You can quit now. He tells the Maker Education Story better and is way better looking!


But what gives me the most energy? Why do I work to get making in the schools every day of my life? That is the question I got asked almost every day. “Ten more minutes sir, please?”  Make it happen!


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