UnConference 2016: Maker Tots

UnConference 2016: Maker Tots

Can toddlers actually do circuitry? Why is “making” important for young children? Can STEAM learning actually happen through play?

If you’ve ever wondered about this, then the UnConference: Maker Tots can answer these questions. Children love to learn and they love even more to learn through play. Making and STEAM learning are critical in teaching children curiosity, creativity, confidence and teamwork. It prepares our children for a future where half of the jobs don’t even exist yet!

Through the generous support of PNC Grow Up Great, please join us.


Regular Registration: $85

PAEYC Members: $75

Student PAEYC Members: $70

Groups of six (6) or more get a 10 percent discount


As part of Remake Learning Days, through the generous support of PNC Grow Up Great, PAEYC and co-host Carnegie Science Center are proud to showcase 2016 UnConference: Maker Tots. You will interact with leading organizations at the forefront of creative learning specifically for young children.

The day also features keynote speaker Sarah Wolman from the LEGO Foundation.

Then, learn how local organizations have incorporated STEAM and maker learning into play by choosing two workshops presentations from the following organizations:

  • Carnegie Science Center
  • Assemble
  • Children’s Innovation Project
  • Pittsburgh Center for Creative ReUse
  • Millvale Community Library
  • Snapology

Plus a live case study presented by educators from Fox Chapel School District, Avonworth School District, and TEK Start LLC.

The day closes with a round table discussion and reflections on how to continue innovative learning beyond the UnConference.

The workshops are developmentally appropriate practice for educators and caregivers working with children, ages birth through 9. However, many of the workshop offerings can also apply to students in kindergarten through fifth grade.


Qualifying educators will receive 6 PQAS/DPW credit hours or Act 48 credit.


Saturday, May 14

8:00–8:30am — Registration
8:30–10:15am — Workshop #1 (5 different workshops offered)
10:15–10:30am — Break
10:30–12:00pm — Welcome, Keynote by Sarah Wolman, LEGO Foundation
12:00–12:45pm — Lunch
12:45–2:30pm — Workshop #2 (5 different workshops offered)
2:30–2:45pm — Break
2:45–4:00pm — Roundtable discussion, wrap-up

To learn more about the workshops, please read the workshop descriptions below. When registering, please rank your interest in each workshop. We will do our best to schedule you in your desired workshops. Please note there is limited space in each workshop so it is best to register as early as possible.

Lunch will be provided.

Morning Workshop Options

Full STEAM Ahead: Cool Tech Tools for Young Learners

Presented by: Alison Francis (Kerr Elementary School/Fox Chapel School District), Maureen Few (Avonworth School District) and Shimira Williams (TEK Start LLC).

Want to bring your classroom into the 21st century in a developmentally – appropriate way? Join us and experiment with some of today’s coolest, most creative, hands-on tech tools. Explore the many unique methods that you can use to introduce pre-coding skills to young children – even on a limited budget! Tools from Robot Turtles, Bee-Bots, Puzzlets, Code.org, Squishy Circuits, and Hummingbird can show you how. Ready for an experience that sparks your imagination and brings technology into your classroom in a fun and easy way? Climb aboard! Full S.T.E.A.M. ahead!

Carnegie Science Center: Our Place in Space

How can we make astronomy activities meaningful for little learners when the universe is so big? Watch a show developed especially for early childhood students in our Buhl Planetarium, then try classroom-tested, hands-on activities. You’ll learn new ways of helping students relate to and understand celestial objects near and far, and have the chance to ask our planetarium staff your burning questions about space!

Carnegie Science Center: Exploration Station Jr. 2.0

Have you ever wondered how Carnegie Science Center’s exhibits team conceptualizes new spaces? Or, wished you could take part in the process? In this behind-the-scenes workshop, learn about plans underway to redesign our fourth-floor early learner space, Exploration Station Jr., and how we’re working with museums nationwide to discover best practices. Coming in 2017, with your input!

Carnegie Science Center: Not Just the Fourth Floor

Everyone likes a field trip, so before the kids and families arrive, Carnegie Science Center is open just for you! Join staff members on a private tour of our four exhibit floors, and learn about opportunities for engaging early learners in each space. Explore new ways to make your students’ next field trip an even deeper experience, and learn about resources designed by the Science Center to support early educators.

Snapology: Inspiring Future Engineers & Scientists

Snapology offers interactive, hands-on learning programs that teach STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) concepts using LEGO® bricks, K’Nex, other similar building tools and technology. Snapology offers a variety of activities designed to reinforce the core competencies and curricula being taught at each grade level. The programs can be customized based on the number of children, age of children, time allotment and/or other special requirements. Come learn how Snapology programs are structured, the academic and social benefits of these programs and participate in a mock Snapology class.

Afternoon Workshop Options

Assemble: Making without much, STEAM learning

Join Assemble’s Nina Barbuto for a workshop on how to take complex concepts digestible for early learners. Learn about Assemble and how to “make” by redefining the world around you. This hands-on workshop will touch on concepts such as computer programming and circuitry.

Carnegie Science Center: Fab Lab 101

Like any form of technology, fabrication tools should be used thoughtfully and intentionally with early childhood students. In our new Fab Lab, learn how both low- and high-tech making with your students can build problem-solving skills, encourage collaboration, and model scientific inquiry. Work in teams to plan hands-on projects for classroom use.

Children’s Innovation Project: Supporting Young Children’s Imagination, Language and Connection with Materials

Join Children’s Innovation Project Co-Directors, Melissa Butler and Jeremy Boyle, for a workshop exploring what it might mean for young children to engage deeply with raw materials, in ways that allow them to find new layers of imagination, language and sense of connection. Participants will have an opportunity to explore with materials, practice observational drawing, and see video and photo examples of children’s processes in thinking and learning.

Millvale Community Library: Mini-Makers, Self-Discovery, and Documentation

This session features practical lessons learned since 2014 at the Millvale Community Library Mini-Makers program. Special focus on skill and vocabulary building, pedagogical facilitation techniques, and the power of inspiration. Hands-on opportunities aim to allow participants to gain comfort facilitating opportunities to tinker, hack, build, and document while reflecting on how this may apply in their own unique learning environments. Facilitated by the Millvale Community Library.

Pittsburgh Center for Creative ReUse: ReMaker Playshop: Creativity, Play + Reclaimed Materials

Learn how incorporating reuse into student learning can promote creativity and sustainability!
Have hands-on fun with reclaimed materials; learn about the environmental benefits of reuse; participate in discussion and brainstorming about choosing to reuse to support the development of maker skills and STEM concepts; explore ways to use reclaimed materials as part of creative projects and play in your classroom.


Carnegie Science Center
1 Allegheny Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212


If you have any questions, please contact Yu-Ling Behr at conference@paeyc.org.

This UnConference, which is part of Remake Learning Days, is co-hosted by the Carnegie Science Center and sponsored by PNC Grow Up Great, the Southwest Regional Key and PITTOHIO.