The Makery Mindset

The Makery Mindset has no fear. It begets projects that are culturally rich and customizable to engage and inspire any student. It brings together ideas from different grades to collaborate on related units of study in hands-on, meaningful and innovative ways. It takes students beyond the four walls of a classroom by providing a lens through which they approach the world we live in.
In 2013, Burke's established two dedicated maker spaces on campus —  Makery Up and Makery Down. They are known collectively as the Makery and materials, projects, and ideas flow freely between them.  
Each space provides student access to numerous supplies and technologies —from glue guns and cardboard to laser cutters and 3D printers. The Makery is a magical space for students to engage in “vintage innovation” and provides spaces for the tinkering and brainstorming that we want our students to master to take on the challenges of our modern world.  After all, with all of the knowledge contained in all of the world's libraries accessible in the palm of your hand, students need to go further than rote memorization of facts. What are they going to do with that information?
The spirit of the Makery is felt through all grade levels and subject areas, beyond its physical space. Our students — and their teachers — feel free to try out their ideas and make mistakes, collaborate and work together, and be as creative as they can be, no matter what they happen to be studying at the time.  Some guiding resources for our work are the Learning Dimensions of Making and Tinkering and ISTE standards.
So while you can examine our curriculum strictly by grade level and subject area, that's not what we would recommend. Because at Burke's, there's no one set path from kindergarten through eighth grade. Students learn to be nimble and independent, and they graduate ready to take on whatever awaits them next.

What Materials Are Available to Students?

3-D printers
Vinyl cutters
Programmable Embroidery Machine
Soldering Irons
Glue guns
LED lights
Programmable robots
Building Tools
Modeling clay
Upcycled materials
And much more!

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  • Photo of Fran Yang

    Fran Yang 

    Director of Curriculum and Innovation
    415.751.0187, ext. 283

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  • Egyptian Museum

    In fifth-grade Humanities, small groups of students tackle specific questions about the ancient Egyptians (such as: "What roles did women play in Egyptian culture?") and then plug their research into interactive exhibits. Handmade dioramas are outfitted with mechanical elements, which are coded to prompt audio descriptions that the girls record themselves.

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  • Circuit Circus

    Each year, the third grade takes its study of circuits and simple machines to put together a variety of ingenious inventions. Among them can be board games, cleaning devices, art-making machines, and a hat that tells you when a car is coming! 

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  • Improv

    After teachers participated in an improv workshop, fifth-grade advisors saw an opportunity to teach the skills they practiced to their students. The fifth graders worked with members of BATS Improv on several exercises that helped them develop "yes, and..." thinking and help them learn how to become more nimble and adaptable.

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  • Ohlone Games

    Third graders learn each year about the native peoples of the Bay Area, including the Ohlone. In the 2016-17 school year, that curriculum spread to P.E. Teachers researched traditional Ohlone games and adapted one for students to practice on the front field.

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  • Week of Code

    Every December, Burke's expands's Hour of Code into a full week of computer-science activities throughout grade levels and subject areas. We do this not because we expect every girl to go into computer science, but because developing those skills — logic, problem-solving, etc. — will serve each of our students no matter what she decides to do.

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  • Body Buttons

    In Lower School art, fourth graders crafted positive body image buttons — all of which contained messages like “I’m size awesome!” — which were then displayed in the Library. The lesson was designed to help students deconstruct the messages society sends girls about their bodies.

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  • Water Spheres

    This spring, sixth graders created self-contained water containers (a.k.a. plastic-free water bottles) using mixtures of sodium alginate and calcium lactate. The odd texture led to some delighted reactions! 

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  • Stop-Motion Videos

    As their entry in the Arts Festival, Upper School Spanish students researched the lives of famous and influential Latinas, then took that information and created stop-motion videos using figurines and other props and the camera function on iPads. They spliced their movies together with voiceovers recorded in Spanish.

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  • Cultural Heritage Fair

    Seventh graders begin working on their Cultural Heritage Projects each January as a part of their history class, researching their family histories and interviewing relatives. They turn that information into a written presentation and create displays with mixed media — sometimes even food and costume — that are exhibited in the Cultural Heritage Fair each May. 

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  • Oregon Trail

    A major element of the second grade's social studies curriculum is the Oregon Trail, and Burke's has approached the subject in a number of ways. Students have crafted miniature wagons in the Makery, banded together as families "on the trail" and written journals about their journeys, and even gone out onto our bluetop with yardsticks and string to measure out how truly small those wagons were in real life.

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  • ExploraVision

    Each year, Burke's sixth graders participate in the Toshiba ExploraVision competition for K-12 students. ExploraVision challenges students to envision and communicate a new technology 20 years in the future. In 2019, students also created TREETalks about their projects!

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  • Exploring States of Matter

    In their science class, kindergarteners learned about the basics of the states of matter through some fun activities. They shook containers of cream (to a fun pop soundtrack) to create butter, froze orange juice into popsicles, and used a hair dryer on crayon arrangements to melt the colors into unique works of art.
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.


An independent K–8 school for girls
7070 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: 415.751.0177 Fax: 415.666.0535
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