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20 Lessons (1h 52m)
    • 1. Trailer

    • 2. What is Making?

    • 3. Inspiring Projects

    • 4. Why I Make

    • 5. Why Be a Maker + Examples

    • 6. The Flowchart

    • 7. Getting Started

    • 8. Getting Unstuck

    • 9. Different Ways to Make Things Now

    • 10. Practical Steps: More Collaboration

    • 11. Problem and Solutions

    • 12. Design and Prototyping

    • 13. Introduction

    • 14. Materials

    • 15. Components

    • 16. Components (continued)

    • 17. Tools and Workspaces

    • 18. Tools and Workspaces (continued)

    • 19. Conclusion

    • 20. Explore Creative Classes on Skillshare

14 students are watching this class

Project Description

Create one project that makes, modifies, or repairs an everyday object or process.


  1. Brainstorm objects you use everyday.

    Set a timer and spend 10 minutes thinking about your daily habits. Brainstorm a list of the objects you interact with everyday. Which things make tasks faster? Which things multitask? Which things feel too fast or slow?

    To take it one step further, think about how different objects, things, and materials might work together—even if they don't have a purpose yet! Think of it like Mad Libs for stuff: X + Y = something you just invented.


  2. Start a Maker Journal.

    Start a Maker Journal. It can be a digital or physical notebook, but commit to adding to it everyday for at least 7 days. Once you start, you'll want to keep up the habit!

    Write words, draw pictures, and make diagrams about processes, tasks, functions, and objects that strike you as interesting, improvable, or mysterious. Start a list of dream projects, no matter your current ability or knowledge.

    The Project Steps in this class will inspire new ideas, but if you're in search of ideas right away, pose questions in the Skillshare Community forum, explore, and search "maker projects" online. Find videos of projects in action, and always challenge yourself to take your curiosity one step beyond your expectations.



The "Why" and "How" of Making

  1. Learn: Dive deeper into these maker projects.

    Search online to learn more about the projects mentioned in the video lessons, jot notes and sketches in your Maker Journal, and jump into the Skillshare Community forums to share your findings with fellow students.

    What surprises you? Did your research lead to other interesting maker projects? What project modifications or new uses can you imagine?

    • Curious about Larry Cotton's birdfeeder? Learn more in the MAKE magazine archives, both by searching the site and exploring digital previews of the print edition.
    • Interested in digitizing LPs? Learn more about Mister Jalopy, starting with articles from NPRThe New York Timesand this video from MAKE TV.
    • Want to make your own Monkey Couch Guardian? Check out this video and step-by-step tutorial from MAKE magazine.
    • Inspired by the bGeigie, the open-source project tracking radiation levels following the Fukushima disaster? Check out this article from MAKE magazine.


  2. Anticipate: Think through the 5-step process.

    Spend some time thinking about how the 5-step flowchart applies to the ideas you've been jotting in your Maker Journal.

    Feeling stuck? Consider the questions and strategies from the video lesson, especially Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies deck, available in this interactive site and as a hardcopy deck. You can also check out some of his original, handwritten strategies in this Brain Pickings post, "Brian Eno's Strategies for Overcoming Creative Block."

    Some favorite strategies:

    • Use an old idea.
    • State the problem in words as clearly as possible.
    • What would your closest friend do?
    • What to increase? What to reduce?
    • Are there sections? Consider transitions.
    • Try faking it!
    • Honour thy error as a hidden intention.

    Jot some notes in your Maker Journal, then jump into the discussion forums to talk through your ideas!


  3. Participate: Start with asking questions.

    Don’t just listen–ask questions! Propose scenarios and suggest ideas. Start with the students here in the Skillshare discussion forums.


  4. Collaborate: Explore maker communities.

    Collaboration is everything!

    Search "DIY" and "Maker" online, and sign up for emails, alerts, and a few blogs that pique your interest. Even if the reading feels unfamiliar at first, keep at it, and keep asking questions. Patterns will emerge, and you might be surprised by the topics you love.

    To get started, check out, and Boing Boing. Ask questions in the Skillshare discussion forums, and explore the sites from companies like Shapeways and Ponoko. We'll dive deeper into these communities a bit later, but spend some time now to start feeling familiar and inspired!


  5. Keep thinking, visualizing, sketching, and writing.

    Keep writing in your journal, especially your thoughts about the “organizational advantage.” What things do you use that are a mystery? That you wouldn’t be sure how to make, modify, or fix? Could you learn? What if you threw away the rulebook and tried it a new way? Invent an alternative!


How to Make Something

  1. Explore the peanut bar jar project.

    Start out with the Wired wiki article that sparked Mark's curiosity. Are you surprised this was considered a hack? What's one improvement you might have made to the project, if this was all you'd ever seen?

    If you want to go as far as Mark, check out the files below. He designed the base in SketchUp (.skp) and got it printed by Ponoko (.eps). The ".ino" file is the Arduino program used to power the servo motor. Here's the HS-311 servo he found useful.

    Alternatively, think of this case study as a model of discovery: Is this a project you'd create? Where does it fit in the 5-step flowchart? Pose and answer questions with other students, and if you're ever not sure about your next steps, revisit "Getting Unstuck" and Brian Eno's strategies.

    (Plus: To learn more about Arduino, check out Mark's beginning class Introduction to Arduino: Creating Interactive Projects.)


  2. Consider prototypes for your own project.

    Return to some of the original ideas you planned in your Maker Journal. What might a first prototype look like? Sketch some ideas, jot some notes, and share your thoughts in the discussion forums.

    (At this stage, you may choose to keep sketching instead of jumping into building.)

    Search "prototyping" on for examples of how other makers collaborators, and DIY-ers have quickly brought their ideas to life.

    Remember: Your first prototype doesn’t have to look great. It just has to prove that your concept really works. Proof of concept means proving that the concept in your mind works in the real world. 

    Once you have a proof-of-concept protoype, think about how you can improve it. Can you simplify it? What features are important to add? How can you make it more robust? Safer? More useful? Easier to use? More attractive?

    Try to answer these questions away from a computer. Sit outside or take a walk and let the high-resolution display and design software in your brain do the work. Then, repeat the steps of computer design and building a prototype.

    Mark has said that it takes at least 4 prototype design cycles to get to something that’s good enough.

    • The first prototype demonstrates that the idea works and also reveals major problems with the design.
    • The second prototype takes care of the major problems and reveals smaller problems.
    • The third protoype will be an improvement but still have quirks.
    • The fourth prototype, if you are lucky, will be good enough to use yourself!

    But: Don't limit yourself to four! You may need to keep at it for a while until you make something that works well enough that you can hand it to another person and have the confidence that they can use it without trouble.

    Keep track of your progress and share your experience in the discussion forums. Collaboration, feedback, and time to think are key!


Maker Tools

  1. Assemble materials for your own project.

    Take inventory of the materials, components, tools, and workspaces available to you. What do you have? What do you need? What can you borrow?

    Visit a hackerspace to try out different tools, and ask questions online about people's experience with specific models or makes.

    In the previous unit, protoyping was considered conceptually. Are you ready to start building your own project? Jump in!


  2. Consider investing in tools for future projects.

    Want to start building your collection?

    • Start collecting scrap wood and store it in a dry place.
    • Gather Legos for rapid protoyping. (For more on Legos and prototyping, see here.)
    • Find the must-have glues: superglue, white school glue, wood glue, and a tube of gorilla glue. Also consider picking up some 5-minute epoxy, a roll of duct tape, and roll of black electrician's tape.
    • Gather a few common input devices, such as buttons and switches, microphones, motion detectors, proximity senors, and light sensors.
    • Gather a few common processing devices, such as a solderless breadboard, resistors, capacitors, diodes, and an Arduino.
    • Gather a few common output devices, such as LEDs, servos, buzzers, stepper motors, and DC motors. 

    Build a useful toolbox, working up to the following:

    • soldering iron
    • wire strippers
    • diagonal cutters
    • long nose pliers
    • slotted screwdrivers
    • Phillips screwdrivers
    • helping hands with magnifying glass
    • digital multimeter
    • work gloves
    • cordless drill and drill bits that
    • tape rule
    • metal rule
    • extension cord
    • respirator masks
    • safety goggles
    • craft knives and cutting mat
    • hacksaw
    • various clamps
    • glue gun
    • hammer
    • locking pliers set
    • adjustable wrench
    • rotary tool and various attachments
    • first aid kit
    • drill press (if you have room)
    • band saw (if you have room)

    Again—if these tools aren't readily available, check out a hackerspace to try them out!



  1. Go check out in-person and online hacker spacers.

    Research, public libraries, and weekend workshops in your area to find meetups for the DIY and Maker community.

    Continue to search online for project inspiration, exploring sites like Instructables, Make, Boing Boing, Adafruit, and HackadayMost online resources have discussion forums where people are more than happy to help you with your questions.

    YouTube is also an excellent resource to answer questions and find demonstrations. If you have a question about making anything, chances are someone on YouTube has made a video.

    Share your findings in the Skillshare discussion forums, post project ideas and questions, and work with other students to build your own online maker community!


  2. Keep reading about making.

    There are tons of books on making and DIY. A few top recommendations:

    Check them out, share your favorites, and add to this list!


  3. Share a project, and keep making!

    Making things changes the way you look at the world around you, opening new doors and presenting new opportunities to get deeply involved in processes that require knowledge, skill building, creativity, critical thinking, decision-making, risk-taking, social interaction, and resourcefulness.

    Remember: The best skill you can acquire in becoming a maker is losing your fear of making mistakes. Mistakes aren’t a bad thing—as long as you take the necessary safety precautions.

    Mistakes are way to learn and point you in new directions. It’s actually a good thing to make as many mistakes as possible early on in the project so that you can get them out of the way and arrive at an optimized solution. You shouldn’t try to make mistakes on purpose, but you shouldn’t give up in despair when you happen to make mistake.

    Leave this class inspired to become a maker. Share what you're working on—be it sketches, ideas, projects, or protoypes that are far along—and we'll build a maker community.

    Have fun making!

Student Projects

project card
Brian Sargent