Planning a Student Showcase

Educator plans a showcase for youth maker projects, processes, and/or work.
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Educator develops an action plan for hosting a maker showcase by determining what projects, processes, and/or work will be shown, where the event will take place, and how learners will play a role in planning, creating, and facilitating the showcase.

Method Components

A maker showcase “ not the same as a science fair. There is often too much ‘show and tell’ or competition at a science fair. A [maker showcase] is all about creativity and collaboration. It celebrates individual ingenuity within the context of the creative culture of shared values.” (179)

A maker showcase event should provide guests with a mix of examples of projects created by youth, and highlight their interests and creative processes. It should be an exciting, fun, interactive event that is developed not just for, but with learners. It is not a competition, but rather an opportunity to showcase creativity, ingenuity, and collaboration.

The maker showcase should primarily be an opportunity for young makers to present and share their work. It should also give parents, families, and other guests the opportunity to experience the kind of maker learning their students have been a part of.

This guide to planning a maker showcase is based on Chapter 11 of Gary Stager and Sylvia Libow Martinez’s Invent to Learn:

What projects will be shown?

  • Collect the projects and documentation that young makers have created of their own work – youth choose projects they are most excited to share.
  • Use minimal text to tell the stories of these projects. Creators of all showcased work should be on site to take on the role of “guide” for guests at a maker showcase.
    • Having the creators there, walking guests through their projects and processes, can be an amazing “...opportunity to convince attendees that making, tinkering, and inventing are educationally sound.” (180)

Where and when will the event take place?

  • A maker showcase can take on a variety of forms. It can be a full day of making activities and displays, but it can also look like a short drop-in experience for parents/family/guardians who are picking up their students from school. Develop a showcase that is accessible and manageable for you, your learners, and your community.
  • The goal, whatever form the showcase takes, is to provide opportunities for learners to share their work, processes, and projects they’ve done.
  • As you become more comfortable with developing and managing showcases, you might consider looking into partnerships with other schools, community organizations, museums, or local makerspaces.

How will learners contribute to the planning and preparation of the showcase?

  • Let learners play a part in determining what will be shown.
  • Learners should be ready and excited to discuss what they made, what they learned from the project, what was exciting about it, and what challenges they faced. Here are some ways to help youth practice the presentation skills they will utilize at the showcase event:
    • Encourage youth to practice their project/process presentations at home, with friends, in class, anywhere they can!
    • Make connections to the theater, English, or speech and debate departments. This can be an opportunity to spread making across departments.
    • A/V teams might be able to provide youth with real hands-on practice with a microphone.
    • Another great way is to encourage young makers to film themselves describing and presenting one of their projects. Watching oneself or one’s classmates is a great way to practice.
  • The community of learners can also play a huge role in setting the tone of the event:
    • They can make signs, posters, and other materials to advertise for or decorate the event.
    • Creators of work being shown should be on site to guide attendees through the event and provide information.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

  • Martinez, Sylvia Libow, and Gary Stager. Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, 2013.
  • Fleming, Laura. Worlds of Making: Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School. Corwin, 2015.


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items you must submit to earn this micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1 and 3 as well as a “Yes” for each component in Part 2.

Part 1. Overview Questions

(200-word limit total per response):

  • In what type of learning environment do you work? (school, after-school, library, museum, etc.)
  • Age/grade level of your learners?
  • Why are you interested in planning a maker showcase with your learners?

Part 2. Work Examples/Artifacts

To earn this credential, educator must put on a maker showcase and submit the following (unless otherwise stated, documentation method is up to earner):

  1. Examples of student-created documentation.
    • Educator DOES NOT need to submit original work/original youth documentation. Copies, photos of photos, etc., are all acceptable.
  2. Examples of how students prepared and practiced for their showcase event.
  3. Examples, with written descriptions (200-word max), of students setting the tone of the showcase.
  4. Examples of students presenting work to showcase guests.

Part 3. Educator Reflection

(300-word limit per response):

  • What were some of the biggest successes of your maker showcase? What were some of the most difficult challenges?
  • Which aspect of putting on the showcase do you feel was most challenging for your community of learners? Which aspect do you feel was most exciting to them?
  • How might you run your showcase differently in the future?
  • What are some steps you might take in the future to expand your maker showcase? Are there other community groups you might connect with? Ways to involve a wider community within your learning environment?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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