MakeSHOP at Remake Learning Days. Photo by Anthony Musmanno.

For 12 days in May, Pittsburgh will become the showcase for an education revolution when Remake Learning Days returns to the region.

From May 15-26, the Remake Learning Network and various partners will present more than 350 free or low-cost events at schools, museums, libraries and other spaces across southwestern Pennsylvania and in West Virginia. What’s described as “the world’s largest Open House for hands-on learning” encourages children and their families to make, create, build and interact with cutting-edge innovations.

“With more than 350 events all across our region, all sorts of families—rich and poor, black and white, urban and rural—will have truly special opportunities to experience in great ways how learning is changing and, importantly, to identify ways to support their kids in modern learning that will prepare them for brilliant futures,” says Remake Learning Council co-chair and  The Grable Foundation Executive Director, Gregg Behr.

Remake Learning Days producer, Dorie Taylor, says the brainy bash shows how bringing new technology, games and other non-traditional tools into schools can better engage and prepare young minds.

“How are you using Legos or Minecraft to develop some new and amazing invention?” says Taylor. “How is letting these kids play with what we call toys going to enable them to model something that’s going to impact the world?”

The latest Remake Learning Days delivers an even more packed lineup compared to last year’s inaugural event, during which 275 events unfolded over the course of a week. The diverse offerings cover a wide range of interests, from robots to virtual reality to pottery making. Families will also get an intimate look at Pittsburgh tech companies and startups when Duolingo, Schell Games, Inventionland and TechShop host open houses for the public.

Creative Conundrum Lab at the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse. Image courtesy of Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse
Creative Conundrum Lab at the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse. Image courtesy of Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse.

To make it easier for guests to navigate the expansive schedule, events are organized into several key themes—maker, arts, technology, science, youth voice, and outdoor learning, a category that integrates nature into the teaching process.

“It’s this idea that you don’t have to be in a classroom to learn innovative technology and science,” says Taylor. “You can actually be in a garden or on the trail looking at the ecosystem.”

For youth voice, local organizations will empower kids through music, radio and film. Local arts collective and activism group 1Hood Media will head Word!, an interactive workshop that demonstrates how to use hip-hop to address social justice issues.

“I have always been the type of individual that learns best when experiencing something,” says 1Hood Media founder, rapper and activist Jasiri X, who is the honorary co-chair of Remake Learning Days, along with singer-songwriter, Daya, from Mt. Lebanon. “Experiential learning is not only necessary in my opinion, but it’s fun. It feels less like work when you’re doing something you love. I believe that Remake Learning experiences help shift youth perception of what work truly can be.”

The focus extends beyond youth to adult learning, as Remake Learning Days presents 45 professional development opportunities across the region for educators.

Taylor understands that while the Remake Learning Days schedule may seem a little overwhelming, there’s something for everyone, and she encourages people to come out and experience it, if just for one day. Last year, more than 30,000 people showed up to participate.

“All the event hosts are positive and upbeat and ready to showcase the great, innovative programming they’re doing, whether it’s in the school or the library,” she says.

Remake Learning Days kicks off on May 15 at PNC Park with a free family-friendly, drop-in event featuring dozens of creative hands-on activities. All events are either free or require a nominal admission fee.

Amanda Waltz

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated to covering Pittsburgh film culture. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and oversized house cat.