An interview on Making with

Dave Peth

Founder, Producer, Symbolic Studio

About Dave

Dave Peth is an Emmy award-winning digital media producer and the founder of Symbolic Studio, a digital media consulting company that helps people learn, grow and change. Recent projects include PEG + CAT and Odd Squad, two PBS KIDS series and digital suites that are all about using math to playfully solve problems. Previously, he served as Senior Producer of digital media at WGBH Boston, one of the largest producers of digital and broadcast media for PBS. While at WGBH he led the development of digital projects including Design Squad, a PBS series and online community and video series about DIY engineering. He holds degrees from Cornell and Harvard in things having to do with technology, art, human development and learning.

What is Making?

Making is a mentality put into action; it’s the idea that what “already is” in the world can be changed for the better with my own two hands.

Who are Makers?

Makers aren’t defined by a credential, or a club, or even by being exceptionally talented in some way. Anyone who takes that first step and tapes something together to solve an everyday problem – they’re a maker even though they might not know it.

Why is Making important?

There is an inertia inside of all of us, a voice that says that we’re not creative enough, or smart enough, or the kind of person that can make something that’s good and useful to others. Through the practice of making, we learn to ignore that false voice and move from ideas into action.

What is an exciting example of Making and why?

Design Squad ( is a PBS series and online community that encourages kids to participate in the design process. On the site, kids submit their own ideas for problems to solve, or things to make, and then other kids draw their own solutions in response. It’s exciting because for many kids, it may be the first of what we hope will be many experiences making things. And it’s simple: it’s about sharing your creativity, even if you haven’t mastered any materials yet. This first step is making a contribution and feeling valued by others.

How is Making transforming education?

A lot of education focuses on what we “know” all by ourselves. But making focuses on what we can “do” as a team. We all need to put our knowledge into action for it to really stick. And we need to learn to do that in collaboration with others.

How can Making change my community?

Making changes a community by changing how people think about themselves within it. Instead of waiting for others to solve a problem, I start to think of what I might do, what I can create, and then feel confident that I have the skills to do it.

How does Making solve big problems?

When solving a big problem we often make the mistake of looking at it abstractly, from the top-down, like we’re mapping a route through a city. That’s necessary, but incomplete. Many big problems need solutions that fit the daily reality of life for the people involved. Making is another way for different voices to be heard, for many people to try things out, and express what’s useful.