‘We laughed, we learnt, we collaborated, we shared: it was the true essence of what Maker Culture is all about’

Teacher Jodene Pereira from the ORT-affiliated King David High School Linksfield in Johannesburg, South Africa, reflects on her experience of the 2019 World ORT Hatter Technology Seminar:

What happens when you put 18 educators and makers from around the world into one room for four days? Absolute magic, that’s what.

The 16th World ORT Hatter Technology Seminar – Bringing the Maker Culture into schools – was an eye-opening experience for me. Coming from a school in South Africa I really did not know what to expect from the conference and I felt intimidated to meet representatives from some of the most technologically advanced schools in the world.

But once I had arrived and met all the participants I realized that essentially we are all the same. We all have the same passion for Maker Culture and education, regardless of our experience level. We all want to take teaching to the next level in order to help the next generation of learners to have a competitive edge in the 21st century.

The participants worked togther on projects throughout the week

The participants worked togther on projects throughout the week

It was amazing to see what other schools are doing with their Makerspaces and it was an honor to present what we do here at King David High School Linksfield in South Africa. I was surprised and extremely proud to see that when it comes to Maker Culture, my school is amongst the most progressive schools in the world.

It helped me to learn that as educators we all face the same obstacles and it was interesting to see that we all had more in common than we had initially realized. It also helped me to understand that I am part of a very large network and there are so many amazing opportunities available to us, now that we are part of the ORT family. As a history teacher myself, I was also impressed by the history of World ORT, as I had not realized that it was such an old organization.

I am blown away by the impact that ORT has had on education and the schools in Argentina, Russia and Mexico are very impressive.

I feel that I have a lot to learn from them, as well as all the other participants and I am privileged that I can now call these advanced and creative educators my friends.

Right from the first day the energy was palpable, as we all have the same passion and interests and the fact that we all spoke different languages was not a problem at all. We very quickly became like a little family, helping each other and collaborating to get the most out of the seminar. One of the facilitators was shocked to learn that none of us had met before.

By day four we did not want to leave and we felt very sad to say goodbye to each other as well as the amazing staff at ORT. The organizers of the seminar made each and every one of us feel like we were at home and all the facilitators from CREATE Education and Green Lab were amazing – they were informative, patient and very inspiring.

CREATE gave us the overview on Makerism in Britain. We also created our own dancing robots using Arduino boards and they showed us how to create 3D designs in Fusion 360. It really got our creative juices flowing. Visiting Green Lab was a treat for an eco-warrior like me. It helped us all to realize that Makerism can be eco-friendly and that upcycling is the way of the future.

I feel truly fortunate that I got to learn from them, as well as from the other participants.

I feel that the Hatter Seminar has not only impacted me professionally, but I feel that it has had a big impact on me personally too. Professionally, I sometimes face issues as a maker and trying to bring in new ideas into a profession that has been around for centuries has its difficulties – but I know now that I have a very big support system, not only in my school, but thanks to this last week, around the world.

Jodene collects her Hatter Seminar certificate from Avi Ganon and Vladimir Dribinskiy

Jodene collects her Hatter Seminar certificate from Avi Ganon and Vladimir Dribinskiy

It has also broadened my horizons and given me friends in 10 different countries. I look forward to collaborating on many different projects with these new friends and I also look forward to visiting them all in the future and have them come and visit me here in South Africa.

We laughed, we learnt, we collaborated, we shared, we failed and kept trying. It was the true essence of what Maker Culture is all about and I am truly fortunate to have been a part of it all.

Thank you to King David High School Linksfield and ORT South Africa for sending me. Thank you to ORT and the Hatter family for hosting us and for making us feel so welcome.

I know that I can speak for everyone who was there when I say that we all left feeling enriched, inspired and completely ready to use our knowledge that we gained and bring it back to our schools to continue to take Maker Culture to the next level.