Educator Resources

A key goal of maker-centered education is to help young people and adults feel empowered to build and shape their worlds. Acquiring this sense of maker empowerment is strongly supported by learning to notice and engage with the designed dimension of one’s physical and conceptual environment—in other words, by having a sensitivity to design. This sensitivity develops when young people and adults have opportunities to: look closely and reflect on the design of objects and systems, explore the complexity of design, and understand themselves as designers of their worlds.

The interrelated nature of these capacities—looking closely, exploring complexity, and finding opportunity—is illustrated by the three parts of the circle pictured below.

Click on each capacity for more information, along with real world pictures of practice.

Looking Closely:
Looking carefully at objects and systems in order to notice their intricacies, nuances, and details. By looking closely, one may begin to see the complexities inherent in objects and systems.
Exploring Complexity:

Investigating the interactions between the various parts and people associated with objects and systems, including the range of values, motivations, and priorities held by the individuals who engage with particular objects and systems.

Finding Opportunity:

Building on close observations and explorations of complexity to see the potential for building, tinkering, re/designing, or hacking objects and systems.

Thinking Routines

Below are several AbD thinking routines—short mini-strategies that encourage the development of these capacities and that can be used in a variety of classroom settings. Each two-page routine includes tips and suggestions to get you started.
Parts, Purposes, Complexities
Parts, People, Interactions
Think, Feel, Care
Imagine If...
Looking Closely Exploring Complexity Finding Opportunity