An interview on Making with

John Edgar Park


About John

John is a maker, technical/artistic problem solver, teacher, builder of quirky electro-mechanical contraptions, husband, and father of two. He hosted the Make: Television series on PBS, has worked in CG animation for 20 years, is now a producer at Disney Research, and writes for MAKE, Boing Boing, Adafruit Learning, and other places online and in print.

What is Making?

Making is dreaming up ideas and then building real things. I associate making with creating physical, tangible things, more-so than purely digital ones. Making is usually creative, a mix of art and engineering. Making is often amateur, in the best sense of the word.

Who are Makers?

Makers are curious people who love to create. They are often risk-takers who don’t back down from a project due to lack of knowledge of how they’ll get it done. Makers are thrilled by the idea of learning new skill to fuel their process.

Why is Making important?

Making is an expression of our creativity, problem solving skills, and, craftsmanship in a very human way. It is important because it can make us and others happy, can help solve real problems for which there are no commercial solutions — such as highly specific assistive devices for people in need. Making as a community can also bring people together in wonderful ways.

What is an exciting example of Making and why?

I’m very excited by makers who build things to help others, such as Steve Hoefer’s sonar glove, which can help people with reduced vision or blindness navigate their environment like a bat.

How is Making transforming education?

Making is such a natural, human thing, and I feel it helps tie together math, art, fabrication, science, computer programming, engineering, and craft in tangible ways. Math, for example, on its own can feel disconnected from reality until you want to use it to help build a thing. Holding that object you created in your hand is tremendous reinforcement of the importance of all of those disciplines.

How can Making change my community?

I honestly don’t know. I haven’t seen it change a community, so much as become its own community of makers. Hopefully, they bring their skills and passions back to their own communities.

How does Making solve big problems?

Making may solve some of our big problems in education, by increasing participation and achievement in the STEAM disciplines. This in turn could lead to all kinds of large scale problem solving in the future.

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