One of the things that I have always loved about MakerEd is the mistakes that are made along the way. Mistakes are an important part of the learning process, but grades have made them feel way worse than they should be. The best metaphor for this is the egg drop project my 6th graders work on for Innovation and Design.
Students are given a bag of supplies and are tasked with making a vehicle that can protect an egg from a one story drop from a balcony. Students work to design and build their vehicle and are even given some plastic eggs to use a test dummies for practice drops. However, when it comes time to drop the real egg, some students are scared. They do not want to see a broken egg. Even though they will not receive a bad grade for a broken egg (my class does not have grades) and they will be given a chance to redesign and drop a second egg, some of those students are hesitant to drop because of what failure will physically look like; a destroyed egg.
Some students love the idea of dropping an egg and seeing a very real success or failure. The binary way of looking at it works for some students. If it broke, they need to figure out how to fix the mistake so the next egg doesn’t break. If it is unbroken, they are reassured that their design worked. While not every assignment or project is as clear as this, it is a nice way of looking at work students do in school.
If the egg breaks, just have another go at it and try to get it right. That approach works for every assignment. I ask students to not be afraid of a broken egg. Just go for it as long as they commit themselves to finding out why the egg broke and work to make sure the same mistakes do not happen again. With that approach, a few broken eggs will be expected and students will not be so hesitant to try.
Mistakes are how we learn and we want students to be more comfortable with them. Sometimes is takes a few broken eggs for them to see this.