Monthly Archives: August 2016

Photo of maker area at Frankenmuth Wickson District Library

Hello, Frankenmuth!


Frankenmuth, a place so beautiful that we were glad it rained one of the days, making us feel better about not missing out on anything. From Bronner’s to the newly opened farmer’s market, there was so much to see and do in this place. We were right in saving it for the grand finale it turned out to be.

On day one, we covered the big picture about making and wrapped the day up with wonderful Hanoch Piven style creations about makerspaces. Day two started with rain on the outside, but it was all sunny in our workshop. Taking inspiration from the cafeteria chairs( which were never meant for a day long session) we designed the chairs of our dreams. We walked through the design thinking process and created prototypes with legos. A fun activity where the creativity and resourcefulness of the participants shined through. We spent the afternoon exploring some hands on activities, tools and the STEM exploration bus from Delta College. We also had the Makerfest at the Frankenmuth Public Library that evening. Thanks to Mary, Pam and Cora(of the Library) and Cindy (who had participated in the workshop at Alpena), we had the library filled to the brim with activities and had the Delta college bus outside(which was a hit among the children). Was very exciting to see the school Lego team and their creations as well as the hack/takeapart station hosted by a member of the community.

On the third day,  we visited the classrooms of elementary school teachers Julie Leach and Tosha Miller (of the TwoSassyApples fame). It was interesting to see the amount of exposure their students were getting and the kind activities being done in the space. They were also kind enough to have a surprise giveaway for one of our participants! After that, we went to the classrooms of the High school teachers Mr. VanArsdale and Mr. Culver. They showed us some great examples of 3D modelling coupled with 3D printing to optimize the casings of the motors on their underwater ROVs. They also had made attachments for a microscope that allowed a student with disability to do her lab work independently. In Mr. VanArsdale classroom, it was reassuring to see the students’ designs and engineering drawings being given the center stage, showing us that the true strength of 3D printing or other fabrication tools lies in 3D modelling skills. A special thanks to both their students who took out the time to come show us their work and the 3D printer they had modified and built from scratch. We ended the day by sharing some strategies on assessment and revisiting the mission from day one.

Working with Pam, Cora and Mary was a truly wonderful experience, and that basement of amazing stuff(not calling it junk) keeps us awake at night with envy. The commitment towards the community you have shows us the true charm of Frankenmuth lies in its people.

Here are some resources that may be helpful:

Photo: Maker Area at Frankenmuth Wickson District Library, Aug. 2016

Sewing machine and inspiration board with prompt at the Zauel branch of the Saginaw Public Library.

Hello, Saginaw!


The one day workshop on Making as learning at the Butman Fish Library, Saginaw was made possible by a chance that Rhonda Butler, the head of the Wicke’s Branch at Saginaw, took while applying to host it. And we are so grateful she did. This was a high energy workshop from start to finish.

We introduced the participants to some high level definitions of making. Then we turned our focus to their community and prompted them to think about the big picture; what was their vision for a makerspace and what it would look like. After that, we shared some ideas on how to assess the work being done in makerspaces without crushing any of the open endedness or the creativity. This brought us to design challenges and design thinking.

With a short introduction to the process of Design Thinking, the group jumped into the challenge with gusto. It was fascinating to see them work under such time constraints(as this was a short workshop) and come up with refined and amazing ideas. The product pitches themselves were a class apart. Hilarious and thought-provoking at the same time, the pitches left us in splits and also wishing the products existed.

We then explored some hands on activities and tools that we had brought along. We had a great conversation about the experiences of the day and how to move forward, bringing this wonderful day to an end. Keeping the best till the end, a very special thanks to the staff of Saginaw Public Libraries for being such lovely hosts and making the workshop so lively.

We are happy to be at the work home of UMSI alum Rhonda Farrell-Butler today — Butman Fish Library, a branch of the Public Libraries of Saginaw!

Some resources that may be helpful:

Benzonia events featured in Traverse City Record-Eagle!

We were delighted when Amanda and Helen forwarded today’s story in the Traverse City Record-Eagle about 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.”

If you cannot access the story online, we have archived the story here.

Wonderful learning in Benzonia!

This was a much-awaited workshop for all of us. Over the three days, we covered different aspects of making. Starting, as always, with the big picture as it brings a focus on the community and allows each makerspace to be conceptualized differently. Since we were with a special group of individuals,(which was evident from the design challenge) we went out into the community and picked up a few real world problems to solve. The resulting ideas and pitches were amazing and showed a great passion for the community. We also had our hosts Amanda and Michelle share all the wonderful work they have been doing at the Library.

The visit to Grow Benzie was truly inspiring and we thank Josh for making it so memorable. With facilities like the incubator kitchen, greenhouses and sewing rooms, we see that the place has the potential to become a real catalyst for growth in this community. We look forward to hearing more!

Our time in Benzonia was heartwarming and we learned a lot from the participants. A big shout out to Sheryl  for joining us (once again) and adding to all the tools for exploration. And having been on the road all summer, we must thank Amanda and Jimmy for making us feel truly at home.

Resources :

Thank you, West Iron

We were joined by a fun and cozy group of teachers from the area for this three day workshop. It was interesting to see making from the perspective of educators and we learned a lot about the settings in which they work and the challenges they face. The first day opened a lot of insights and questions regarding the big picture. Next we explored the different tools and looked at how we can combine them into fun activities. The stop motion animation challenge helped us look at the tools through a different lens. Later that evening, we had the community come together for a high energy Makerfest. At the end of the evening, we heard a kid exclaim “I didn’t know the library was so cool!”. This definitely made our day. On the last day, we did a couple of design thinking challenges to tackle problems that they face everyday. And we wrapped workshop by revisiting the broader vision.

It was fun visiting the picturesque West Iron district and exploring the nature around. We thank Stephanie for being such a wonderful host and inviting us to the beautiful West Iron District Library.  

Materials we used in the workshop:


Mural made of shattered mirrored glass on display.

Thank you, Coopersville!


Thank you so much for a wonderful event. We explored many topics together, spent a lot of time actually getting our hands on the activities we might incorporate into our maker practice, and got to see some great sights together. Special thanks to the Coopersville High School for providing the meeting space for our event, Ryan Schoenborn for sharing his expertise and experience running an after-school STEM club, GVSU for sending some interesting tech and sharing their stories about maintaining a creative technology space inside a larger organization (and alongside many other responsibilities), and of course the Coopersville Area District Library for applying and inviting us to their area.

The time we spent at Coopersville, either in the workshop or the public event, we felt very connected and community-driven. People generally seemed to understand the connection that being a maker has to both the traditions of the area (seeing the woodworking area as a place to express that creative, purposeful energy, for example) and the needs of the community (which we felt in our conversations with the community at our very well attended MakerFest).

Here are some resources that you may find useful:

And some selected photos from our visit:

Continue reading Thank you, Coopersville!