Education Day is a tradition at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Mini Maker Faire. This exclusive event offers hands-on and interactive learning opportunities to area 7th grade students and their teachers.

Now in its third year, Education Day was created to give students and educators the opportunity to meet and interact with local makers, and to see firsthand how the elements of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) education are applied outside of the classroom.

During their visit to Education Day, students travel throughout the Faire meeting the hobbyists, professionals, and tinkerers who make up the Maker community. Nearly every booth has an interactive component, with some offering a make-and-take component. A quick scan of the exhibit hall will show students partaking in coding challenges, learning to solder for the first time, practicing wood turning, laser etching and cutting a design in wood, 3D printing a name badge, dying fabric using homemade and natural dyes, creating music in a drum circle, flying drones, painting giant spin art using bicycles, navigating a Lego robotics challenge course, or frolicking on super-sized versions of playground equipment.

Students are exposed to new ways of thinking and are challenged to apply their learning from school to unexpected contexts. Teachers frequently report how exciting it is to see their students so intensely engaged in learning and discovery. Most importantly, students and teachers alike are reminded of the value of learning through play, and play while learning.

This year Education Day is expanding to feature the work of students with the addition of Student Showcase. Students attending Education Day can apply to exhibit their projects, and celebrate their work and learning alongside those of the general maker community.

Education Day 2017 will be held Friday, June 2 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds Grandstand. The event is exclusive to 7th grade students attending schools with a 50% or greater free- and reduced-lunch population. Learn more at http://msp.makerfaire.com/education-day/.

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