Go Ye Forth and MAKE

For the last few days, I have been voraciously consuming a new (at least to me) series on youtube. That in itself is not so odd; I watch a lot of youtube these days. What is a little strange is this: The series is put out by Braille Skateboarding, and is called “You Make It, We Skate It.”

Let me explain something about me: I grew up on five acres of woodland out in the countryside. The little pavement nearby was extremely rough; terrible for skating. On top of that, I have a sense of balance equivalent to C-3PO’s sense of humor. I mean, I fall over on my own two feet, let alone on a skateboard. It was never a hobby that held any interest whatsoever for me.

…But! This series caught my attention for two main reasons, despite my total lack of familiarity with the subject matter.

First, the guys in it, all of them, love what they are doing. And, while there are some obvious skill disparities among them, they are super encouraging to each other. That generous spirit flows over to the many kids hanging out at the skate parks they frequent. I love seeing how unifying their passion for skating is, even though I will probably never go hang out at one of those skateparks myself.

Second, and more importantly, this series is all about encouraging people to make some crazy stuff, send it in, and see how it works. These guys are connecting with people who share their passion (some of whom are still in school), and encouraging them to think outside the box, put together a prototype, and see how it works. Better yet, if you watch the videos, you can track the progress of certain ideas as they grow from an ineffective concept to a functioning prototype. The coolest example here is the 3D printed wheels arc, beginning in the second episode of the series. The first attempt didn’t work very well, with the wheels shattering on the first serious impact. After a few refinements, however, 3D printed wheels ended up working out all right after all.

This all just made me think of Launch, by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani. It got me thinking about how people (students included) have this amazing potential to create. Sure, very few of the creations from You Make It, We Skate It are particularly “good,” inasmuch as they offer little in the way of improvements to the overall design of skateboards, but I don’t think that is the real point. What is more important than whether or not people reinvent the skateboard with their submissions to Braille Skateboarding is that they were engaged in making things. They were engaging their minds in a natural progression, like the Launch cycle:

final version alternate

I don’t know if I will ever be able to use You Make It We Skate It in my classroom. But I think I can use the same kind of energy that it exudes. The energy of people excited about what they are doing, that prompts people to make crazy stuff, then see how well it works. Until then, you will find me watching the next episode. I think it has something to do with wheels made out of pool balls.

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