In getting organized for the new school year, I realized that we had never blogged about our friends Finn McLaren and his mom, Benzonia’s director Amanda McLaren, being featured in School Library Journal! Enjoy the excerpt below, and click here if you have an SLJ subscription and want to read the entire piece!
Making the Difference;
More than cool materials and DIY learning, makerspaces build confidence, expand worlds, and teach life skills
by Marva Hinton
School Library Journal, May 2018
FINN McLAREN WAS A SHY TEEN who never showed an interest in sports or school clubs. He hadn’t quite found his place or an activity that sparked his interest. But when a group from the University of Michigan conducted a maker workshop at his local library in the summer of 2016, his mother saw “a total transformation.”
“It lit something up in him,” says Amanda McLaren, Finn’s mom and the director of the Benzonia (MI) Public Library that hosted the workshop.
Now 15 and a high school sophomore, Finn runs the Benzie Guild of Makers, a club he created consisting of mostly fourth to sixth graders. He is also thinking about his future.
“Because of the maker program and working with the younger kids, I have thought of a career teaching math and science, so I could incorporate making,” he says …
Makerspaces and the maker-centered educational philosophy of open-ended, student-driven learning through discovery and experimentation can change kids’ lives. Like Finn did, many children build confidence in a makerspace. They find a place where they belong. Children who are without many friends can develop a social circle of those with like-minded interests. Students who struggle in a traditional academic setting experience success. Those who are afraid to try and fail discover how much can be learned when things go wrong. They feel the satisfaction of perseverance and problem solving …
Finn McLaren is the mentor. His group meets at the library twice a month and … one of their favorite things to do is deconstruct mechanical toys.
“They learn how things work,” Finn says. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Finn’s mom finds joy in seeing his confidence and emerging personality.
“The kids are so drawn to him, and he is so patient and lovely with them, that I could not be more proud,” she says. “He’s just completely come out of his shell.”