The Hierarchy of Making

Benjamin Bloom, along with his colleagues and collaborators, introduced his famous taxonomy in 1956 as a way to categorize learning objectives and tasks. Since that date, and since the taxonomy underwent a minor makeover in 2001, there are likely few if any teachers working in the service of kids and communities that don’t occasionally reference the well regarded triangle shaped chart.

MakerEd seems like a new concept on the state of education. I would presume that most people think of 3D printers whirring away when they hear the term “MakerEd.” What can be more new fangled and cutting edged than 3D Printers in the classroom? One can almost hear Ben Franklin or Leonardo DaVinci calling foul from the past when we only think of 3D printing as MakerEd. 3D Printers certainly open new possibilities in making, but I think of MakerEd as anytime kids make anything to prove their learning or explore their world. So, when kids make apps in a computer programming class, when physics students build catapulting contraptions, when art students build a cardboard sculpture taller than me outside of my classroom, we see kids engaged in MakerEd.

With so many kids out there “Making,” perhaps we can classify those experiences using the work of good ol’ Benjamin Bloom. These experiences listed here in this article shouldn’t be considered more or less valuable. If a teacher were to plan experiences, however, they may want some guidance on what might be more appropriate for their own classrooms.

The Fiddler’s Stage

The classic taxonomy listed as the “Knowledge” as the base of the pyramid. After the revision in 2001, the authors decided that knowledge was different at each stage and they put “Remember” at the bottom of the pyramid. In either case, MakerEd students are poking around in this cognitive level and are just figuring things out for the first time. They are trying to recall basic facts and seeing how things work. For MakerEd, I would call this the “Fiddling” stage. This is when students may get their hands on equipment for the first time and they are just figuring out what that equipment can do. I recall my own technological fiddling stage as a kid – a crazy electrical circuit experiment board from Radio Shack. I remember not really understanding how things worked at first; it sure was fun though to pull out the plugs and move the wires around when I was trying to figure out things work.

Fiddling Activities:

  • MakeyMakey
  • ScribbleBots

The Experimenter’s Stage

Understanding and Applying is the Experimenting Stage where students are trying to figure out what is true in a predictable manner. Whereas fiddling activities, students are not really looking to create predictable and reproducible results, Experimenters are attempting to Make something they can rely on. This may involve following tutorials at first, but eventually adding their own ideas, interpretations and commands.

Experimenter’s Activities:

  • Raspberry Pi Tutorials
  • TinkerCad parts building
  • Appleā€™s Everybody can Code Program

The Inventor’s Stage

The Inventor is standing on the shoulders of Franklin and DaVinci. They are taking their knowledge from the Fiddling and from their Experimenting and are finally applying it to real problem identification and solving. The top end of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy is Evaluation and Creation. Evaluation and Creation are the core of the Inventor’s heart as they use their Maker skills to create real world solutions. Most likely, these kids have gathered some knowledge about the Design Thinking process and have begun to create real solutions to problems that are effecting them.

Inventor’s Activities:

  • Inventor’s Faire
  • Science and Engineering Fairs
  • School-based startup accelerator

Featured Image from Unsplash

Leave a Reply