If you search up the word ‘Maker’ you’ll find other words coming your way, like ‘tinkerer,’ ‘builder,’ ‘inventor’ and many more. I presume everybody is a maker in one way or the other; growing up, I have seen my father fixing problems at
home by buying tools from different stores or
searching on You Tube to find how to fix a problem and then implementing those ideas.
The Maker movement, especially in the
United States, was brought into the mainstream by events like Maker Faire and places
like TechShop providing the tools and the
support system. Many more maker spaces
are out there and more are coming up everyday. Access to technology and software development tools has made it possible to be a
maker if someone is keen to explore.
In my 13 years, I don’t know too much
about the world. But what I do know is that
people who have invented and made new
things that we have taken for granted in our
lives started by breaking or building stuff
somewhere in their home or school and
along the way found mentors who believed in
them and encouraged them. Many big companies have started from garages; that’s how
Silicon Valley became famous.
The most common attribute of a maker
mindset is the trigger-happy mentality of
opening up articles, trying to understand
how things work, asking a lot of questions
from different sources, collecting the answers
and then processing them from within to
eventually make something new. They do not
seek celebrity status, but look for people who
are interested in their own work.
Ahmed Mohamed in Irving, Texas, was also
proud of his creation and only wanted to
share it with his teachers and friends in
school. The news of his arrest for taking the
clock he built to school is a reminder to all of
us that there is some education required for others to understand the maker mindset.
If I look around me, all the maker friends I know will probably have a circuit board or a soldering iron or couple of
wires in their school bag. If searched, many schools will be
surprised to find weird things in our backpacks. Even Steve
Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, spent a night in jail for
making a fake bomb in high school.
I have to admit that some of the models that come out of a
maker’s mind can seem threatening to normal people. To
understand a Maker, you need to be a Maker — the technology community, especially from Silicon Valley, rallied around
Ahmed because we understand each other and speak the
same language — or try and educate others a bit more on
what it takes to be innovative. If we have to succeed in
STEM, we have to move out of the classroom and practice
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
is encouraging all agencies to provide research and develop-
ment funding for entrepreneurs with good ideas for low-cost
instruments and kits for Makers and citizen scientists. In a
May 2012, communiqué President Barack Obama had stat-
ed, ‘I want us all to think about new and creative ways to
engage young people in science and engineering, whether it’s
science festivals, robotics competitions, fairs that encourage
young people to create and build and invent — to be makers
of things, not just consumers of things.’
As all the media attention eventually dies down what will
remain will be the continued path to innovate and take this
experience in a positive way.
Ahmed, some people will always criticize. I faced that ini-
tially when I posted my first ever You Tube video describing
my lego Braille Printer, which I called Braigo. If we young
innovators take a step forward and take a plunge into mak-
ing a real product from a prototype it will create wonders for
society. There are many young makers who have already cre-
ated a name. Eg: Joey Hudy, the creator of Extreme
Marshmallow Cannon whom I happen to know personally;
Sylvia, who has run the Sylvia Show from a very young age.
I am fortunate, that I’m in Silicon Valley and a freshman
at Archbishop Mitty High School where I am surrounded by
like-minded adults and children. I enjoy a balanced life where I am both learning and exploring my passions in life with
a good support system. We need to replicate this environment everywhere to make America competitive in today’s
world. Students like Ahmed need a supportive environment
to cultivate the skills that no one can measure in a curriculum oriented environment.
Makers need to have a space where their free-flowing
minds can explore and share ideas and information with a
good support system. They are the ones who will create the
next wave of technological revolution in today’s connected
shubham Banerjee is the creator of Braigo, a revolutionary
Braille printer, that has received funding from Intel Capital
and support from Microsoft, making him one of the world’s
‘All my Maker friends will
After Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old innovator in Texas, was detained
probably have a circuit board
or a soldering iron or couple
of wires in their school bag’
in handcuffs for building a clock that a teacher mistook for a bomb, a teen
innovator from Silicon Valley speaks up about the importance of a
supportive atmosphere for a Maker Mindset.
left, when ahmed mohamed was detained. above, the teen with his father mohamed elhassan mohamed as they attend a news conference on September 16 in Irving, texas. ahmed has been applauded and invited by the White house, Facebook and Google for his innovation. ‘cool clock, ahmed. Want to bring it to the White house? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes america great,’ President Barack obama tweeted.
Ben toRRe S/Getty ImaGeS
September 25, 2015