We were delighted when Amanda and Helen forwarded today’s story in the Traverse City Record-Eagleabout the maker movement in the Traverse Bay area, specifically highlighting Benzonia’s efforts:
Benzonia Public Library Director Amanda McLaren said she first got involved with the maker movement through her husband, who likes to tinker, and her son, who loves science.
“What really draws me to the maker movement is the community aspect,” McLaren said. “It opens doors for those that are talented, creative, artistic and curious and brings together a community of like-minded people.”
And the community is growing on several regional fronts.
The Benzonia Public Library hosted free workshops and a MakerFest earlier this week, and the Fife Lake Makerspace is fundraising for a physical space …
The concept of “maker culture” is where hacker culture, DIY-ability and technology intersect. The national movement combines varied pursuits like traditional arts and crafts and engineering with an open-source philosophy and a playful, collaborative spirit …
“It encompasses everything,” McLaren said. “I feel like it comes from that desire to reconnect with basics and building something you can be proud of. I feel like we’ve lost that.”
Teresa Mills, of Fife Lake, said she first heard about makerspaces in 2012, when she got involved as a facilitator for the movement throughout Grand Traverse County.
“It’s like a gym, but it’s for the mind,” Mills said. “A maker is everything from baking cookies to installing to journalism — people need to quit getting caught up in the ‘makerspace’ label.”
Cities like Grand Rapids and Detroit have hosted these events, and a grant from the University of Michigan’s School of Information and the Institute of Museum and Library Services allowed the Benzonia Public library to host free workshops and a MakerFest earlier this week.
The events overlapped with the library’s summer-long science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) theme.
McLaren added that she was excited that the small town hosted a “big city” event.
“The real focus is on starting this with youth,” McLaren said. “This also offers continuing education credits for teachers.”
The workshop got off to a great start with attendees travelling from as far as Ypsilanti and Frankenmuth to join us. We discovered that Alpena houses NOAA’s Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center and we were joined by the Education Coordinator as well. The news of underwater robotics competitions and tours of shipwrecks made us realize we were in a very special place indeed.
On day one, we discussed the fundamental concept of making and the conversation on the community and its needs were particularly fascinating. From hosting underwater robotics competitions to artisanal quilts and tapestries, the community had a diverse group of individuals constituting it.
On the next day, we explored many different types of maker activities and tools. These included both high tech tools like arduinos and low tech activities like glass etching.The activities with strawbees was so soothing and fun that we had a room full of people silently engrossed in their creations. A special thanks to Nancy, the IT (and strawbee) specialist at the Alpena Library, for arranging this activity. We also found the time to play a round of the design thinking game. What a fun, creative group of individuals! The two teams jumped in with gusto and came up with some amazing ideas, and their fun product pitches had us in splits. We had a soldering workshop to create paperclip sculptures, an activity right in the center of technology and art.
On day three, we covered ways of assessing open ended maker activities and revisited the missions from day one.The impromptu walking tours, the glass bottom tours of shipwrecks, the Maritime Museum and the wonderful hospitality left us wanting to stay longer. A big thanks to Jessica Luther at the Alpena County George N. Fletcher Public Library for inviting us and giving us this wonderful experience.
Shelly attended our Houghton Lake workshop and added so much excitement to our days! With a grant from the Missaukee Area Community Foundation, she’s launching a makerspace at her school, Northern Michigan Christian School.
The project was recently featured in the Cadillac News and features the quote above. You can access it via free registration or by opting to watch an ad prior to accessing the entire article.
We had a wonderful workshop at Pickford Community Library from June 20th to 22nd. Special thanks to Ann Marie Smith, director of the Pickford Community Library, for inviting us to her library and hosting our activities, with a special mention to Chris Smith and his talk on his use of Arduino microcontrollers in educational projects ranging from aquaponics to lightsaber design(!!!).
We also explored a number of other hands-on making activities to explore first-hand what it’s like to be a maker in a learning environment. We certainly weren’t teaching these people to be creative, but we were helping them think about creation in a new way. From board game design to squishy circuits made of conductive dough, we enjoyed a wide variety of creative activities in the activity space in the same space as the Friend’s Bookstore at the Pickford Community Library.
With attendees ranging from local artisans to middle school teachers, ISD executives to recent art-school graduates, it was one of our most diverse, exciting groups so far. With such a creative community we knew in advance that the maker activities would be some of the most creative and varied that we had seen, and we weren’t disappointed. People especially enjoyed hacking (that is, modifying) the simple LED flashlights that we made together into something unique to each participant.
The squishy circuits creations were highly creative and varied as well, ranged from prototypes for wearable light-up shoes to an exploration of switches made of various colors of dough.
Good morning everyone! We can’t wait to see you all again for a great day full of making and experimentation. We will upload the slides later (today is mostly a day of hands-on activities, so there won’t be many slides).