BY DAN WOODS
Learn a new skill, teach a new skill.
We tried out a cool new idea at Bay Area Maker Faire 2010: we hosted a Learn to Solder tent where people of all ages
could sit down and learn to solder for the very
first time. Under the supportive tutelage of Mitch
Altman, Jimmie P. Rodgers, and a band of volunteers, thousands of attendees donned safety
goggles, picked up a soldering iron, and emerged
minutes later proudly wearing the product of their
new skill — a blinking LED merit badge (brilliantly
designed by our own Marc de Vinck).
For two days, thousands of people sporting their
freshly minted, flashing badges of accomplishment
— transformed by this simple gateway project and
flushed with confidence — were suddenly looking
for their next project.
We repeated this Learn to Solder activity with
the same success at Maker Faire Detroit and
World Maker Faire in New York. Each time, it’s
a refreshing and very personal reminder of the
transformative effect that learning a new skill
has on people, and by extension on the DIY community. It’s been wonderfully rejuvenating to the
entire MAKE team. So as 2011 approaches, we
thought, “What a perfect New Year’s resolution
for makers of all ages.”
Mitch Altman (left) guides a gentleman at
Maker Faire Detroit through soldering his
very first circuit.
Learn (and Teach) a New Skill
In this year’s Holiday Gift Guide and Maker Shed
makershed.com), you’ll find hundreds of
kits, books, and tools designed to help you develop
and build upon a new skill. Learn to solder; design
a circuit; program an Arduino; build a simple compressed air rocket (yes, they really do go up to 300
feet high); make a cracker box amplifier; learn to
sew with one of our sock monkey kits.
Share It Online
And don’t forget to share your experience.
Whether you just soldered your first merit badge
with your kid or took on an entire drip irrigation
system with an Arduino, share it with others.
Take some pics or video. Post it to Make: Projects
makeprojects.com). Tweet it. Or just email us.
Even in-progress reports are welcome and inspirational to other makers.
Learn a new tool, skill, or technique, but then
pass it along. You wouldn’t believe how many moms
I saw in the Learn to Solder workshops teach their
kids how to solder just 10 minutes after they’d
picked up an iron for the first time. Yes, you can!
As John Park said to me the other night,
“Resolve to do new stuff and tell people about it
on a blog, Flickr, forums — but somehow put it to
I’ll toast to that. Happy New Year, Makers!
Photograph by Goli Mohammadi
Dan Woods is associate publisher of MAKE and general manager of the Maker Shed.