When I was young (albeit in the Dark Ages) the marks of a customized bicycle were playing cards that flapped between the spokes to make a satisfying racket, and perhaps an extra-large horn. No longer. How would you like to design a bike that glows in the dark? Thanks to Make, you can do it—just follow the directions (and for most of us, order a some necessary glowing parts).
Making a glowing bike looks like loads of fun, but the “maker” experience goes beyond that. Maker attitude suggests, “I can make this better” “I can imagine something and make it happen” and “I can tinker without fear of ruining everything.”
I’ve thought a lot about the latter recently. I wondered why, as a kid who loved to create imaginary worlds, space ships, etc. I never liked to thinker with real objects. I think, at least in part, the answer was that I’d been well trained not to break things. The result is, even now, I have little confidence in my ability to take things apart without causing disaster. Fixing a broken toilet causes me joyous amazement, and is likely to inspire a victory dance.
Now, being careful with possessions is an important lesson for children to learn. But if we are to help young people develop the thinking essential to creative inventors and entrepreneurs, there need to be safe spaces to take things apart, explore and experiment. There need to be places to learn the (ever shifting) line between lack-of-care and creative risk-taking. Those opportunities are one of the things I love best about the maker movement. Perhaps this summer will be a good time for you to explore Make magazine or the associated website, check out DIY programs for kids, or just do a little making on your own. Whatever you choose, leave space for trial-and-error—and maybe the errors most of all.
Maybe we should try that bike?