How can we raise children who are creative, lifelong learners? This is the question at the center of Dr. AnnMarie Thomas’ book, Making Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Innovation.
“I thrive in creative, playful environments, and find most students do, too,” says AnnMarie, an associate professor in the School of Engineering and the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship.
As the creative force behind the Playful Learning Lab, AnnMarie leads a team of students looking at the playful side of engineering, developing Squishy Circuits, the science of circus, and toy design curricula.
I thrive in creative, playful environments, and find most students do, too.
She’s interested in how creativity and play can enhance learning environments. Often, the best way to wrap your head around something is getting your hands moving by making. So AnnMarie is developing maker spaces, or prototyping labs, on both of St. Thomas’ campuses for students in all disciplines.
“The maker spaces will bring out creativity and innovative ideas from students who may be hesitant to throw some of their thoughts out there,” she explains. “By creating physical spaces like this, we allow students to explore innovative ideas and try to make them a reality.”
With her colleagues, she also founded and directs the Center for Engineering Education, where they develop and teach engineering courses used by PK-12 educators across the country.