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Workshop in Niles: Gathering Financial Support

Do you freeze up when it’s time to write a grant, scrambling to find the information and get it done on time? Do you know where you can get great demographic data to help build a case for why your community is in need of funds? Do you know what a program officer is and how he or she can be invaluable in your project planning?

Those were the kinds of questions we sought to answer in our last workshop at the Niles District Library on Friday, June 16, 2017.

We started by making a wish list so we’d have it at the ready when we found out about new grant opportunities.

Photo of a wish list worksheet

We used BusinessDecision (free to Michiganders via the Michigan eLibrary!) to dig into demographic information and look for how we could weave data into compelling stories.

And among other things, we took some time to just think about how to organize our thoughts with some sample grant questions culled from a variety of common funding sources.

writing

If you missed this workshop, check out our schedule of upcoming events and come and join us!

You can also download our planning packet here.

Kristin

Workshop in Niles: Design Challenges

On Friday, June 16, Ben and Alyssa led us in a half day of design challenges: short, one-session design sprints using various physical materials.

First off, Guinness World Record-style challenges. Who can build the longest or tallest or fastest or …? For an example of this, we used the classic marshmallow challenge with the largest marshmallows we had ever seen!

Photo of construction using marshmallows and toothpicks

We continued our use of everyday materials by converting brown parcel paper into life-size marionettes, turning our attention to STEAM-related design challenges with bunraku-style puppets:

Two paper bunraku puppets sitting side by side

After challenges with paper and food, we turned to non-natural materials with a challenge involving Strawbees that demonstrated the challenge cards available from Strawbees:

Assembling an object using Strawbees connectors

And finally, we used our own in-house design cards to challenge people to solve problems with cardboard and plastic MakeDo screws:

A chef's hat made from cardboard and MakeDo screws

We’ll be repeating versions of this workshop throughout the summer. If this looks like fun, we hope you’ll register for one of our free statewide workshops.

You can also find our folder of support materials here.

As always, these workshops are made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services RE-05-15-0021-15. We are grateful for their support and for their funding, via the Library of Michigan, of LSTA funds that bring us resources like the databases and electronic resources of MeL.org.

Kristin

 

 

Workshop in Niles: Day of Design Thinking

Thursday, June 15, was our only daylong design thinking workshop of the summer! We met at Niles District Library to use the design thinking method to redesign dashboards, do customer research to make a better bag, and practice design thinking to solve problems.

You can view the slides and resources here.

Here are some photos from the day …

A dinosaur footprint disguiser (prototype)

Our opening activity: the design thinking game. The prompt: make something for a dinosaur to wear on its feet. A solution: create these strap-on accessories that allow dinosaurs to disguise their footprints (aren’t they always just plodding through all that mud that gets fossilized? Talk about evidence!). Think they’re not smart enough to remember to strap them on? That’s why there’s a supplemental brain that can be implanted (bottom left).

 

dashboard research

Doesn’t every workshop send you out to the parking lot to gather data about your dashboard so you can design a better one? Here’s someone’s notes …

 

custom settings for your dashboard via usb

Here’s a design thinking solution: a LEGO prototype of a USB drive that you can insert into the car so it can recognize you and auto-adjust the wheel, seat, and other items.

 

wheeled bag

Use junk box materials to design the perfect bag (with a few LEGO wheels thrown in for good measure). Check out the telescoping handle!

 

crossbody bag

This prototype includes a padded pocket, a water bottle holder, and a flap that can lower to reveal specialized pockets.

travel jacket
Not everyone needs a perfect bag … some people need a travel jacket instead, with pockets in all the right places.

homeless
Design the perfect bag? How about this one that stores a jacket and a zip-on sleeping bag.

Tomorrow is out last Niles workshop of the day … design challenges in the morning and grantwriting* in the afternoon!

*Note: Our funding precludes us from assisting on any official grant application, but we can give general advice!

Workshop in Niles: Making Maker Learners: Introduction to the Maker Movement

On Wednesday, June 14, we were excited to have a full-day workshop on the Big Ideas of the maker movement and maker culture for librarians and educators at the Niles District Library.

You can view the slides and our resource folder here.

Here are a few photos from the day …

Photo of Vision Statement

Making a paper flashlight after working on a maker vision statement.

 

flashlight hacking

Hacking the flashlight!

 

Perusing books donated by Libraries Unlimited

Perusing books about the maker movement at the end of the day.

 

Playing with the Robot Mouse kit by The Learning Company

Robot Mouse for young children got taken for a spin.

Hope to see you at one of our upcoming workshops!

Header that reads "Getting Started with Design Thinking"

Saginaw Design Thinking Workshop

Flyer for Design Thinking Workshop in Saginaw on March 11

Kamya, Ben, and I were happy to be at the main Hoyt Library at Public Libraries of Saginaw this morning to talk about design thinking as a frame for creative thinking and hands-on making.

Here is our slide deck.

Here is the downloadable design thinking game (with word-based prompts).

Here is the downloadable design thinking game (with image-based prompts).

Need anything else? Email us at contactmichiganmakers [at] umich [dot] edu.

Thanks!

Kristin

Header that reads "Getting Started with Design Thinking"

Getting Started with Design Thinking (Benzonia)

Flyer for Getting Started with Design Thinking. You can view the details in a machine-readable version at https://www.eventbrite.com/edit?eid=30226120139

Hello! Kamya and I are tickled to be back in Benzonia today, hosting a half-day workshop on design thinking for librarians and educators working with teens.

You can find the slides here.

If you’d like to try your hand at our prototyped design thinking game, click here for a word-based version and here for a pictorial version.

If you’d like to join us on Saturday, March 11, for another variation of this workshop in Saginaw, click here to register for free.

Sketch from design thinking activity at Benzonia Public Library

Teacher Librarian article on Design Thinking

Many of you enjoyed using design thinking as a framing structure to help making fit more tightly into your curriculum. Thanks to the publisher, I’m able to share my latest “Makerspaces” column on design thinking from Teacher Librarian..

Full citation: Fontichiaro, Kristin. 2016. “Inventing products with design thinking: Balancing structure with open-ended thinking.” Teacher Librarian 44:2, December, 53-55.

MML in School Library Journal!

We were delighted that Making in Michigan Libraries was featured in this online School Library Journal story on SLJ’s upcoming online maker workshop series. The story will also run in January’s print issue.

Here’s an excerpt:

Kristin Fontichiaro adds that librarians should consider what’s best for their particular community. She’s a clinical associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information and the faculty lead for the Making in Michigan Libraries project, which supports primarily rural areas.

Good libraries have always been responsive to the needs of their community,” says Fontichiaro. “There’s a big need for folks to be learning with their hands as well as learning with their brains.” She says Making in Michigan Libraries doesn’t go in and tell librarians what to do or buy. Instead, they ask questions about what the community needs. “That helps us make purchases for things that get used as opposed to things that are showpieces,” says Fontichiaro.

She stresses that every Maker space will be different. For example, some might need to be a place for students to wind down after a long day, while others might need to get students energized. “The biggest mistake we can make is to assume what works in one school or public library will work in every school or public library,” says Fontichiaro.

The SLJ online Maker Workshop, which will include my discussion community needs, beginsJanuary 31. Those who register by Friday receive a 20% advance discount.

Decorative: Photo of inside of toy electronic guitar

Toy Takeapart

{Cross-posted from MakerBridge blog}

Over the past few months, we’ve been piloting Toy Takeapart at our statewide MakerFest events and Michigan Makers after-school program. It’s pretty close to a sure-fire hit.

MM Toy Take Apart 11/22/2016

We visit our favorite end-of-the-line thrift store outlet, where we can buy electronic toys for less than a dollar and know that if we did not buy the toy, it would be dumpster-bound within the hour. (That saves us from the guilt of thinking we have grabbed a toy that a needy child otherwise could have used.)

MM Toy Take Apart 11/22/2016

We avoid any toys with a screen — I’m a little anxious about what chemicals could be released if the screen was cracked.

MM Toy Take Apart 11/22/2016

Why toys and not appliances? Toys tend to run on 6 volts or fewer of electricity. Anything that plugs in gets 120V, and that means there can be energy stored up inside that could be unsafe for kids.

MM@Mitchell 11/29/2016

If it’s a public event, we generally set out the toys with a handful of screwdrivers, googles, pliers, and this handout. Without a doubt, when we clean up at the end of the night, the take apart table looks like a tornado has hit. Even though we tell kids and families that they can keep We scoop up anything that is left over. Anything cool and electronic gets saved for future digital jewelry-making. Anything else gets added to the junk box, where it will get a second life inspiring a new invention or creation.

MM@Mitchell 11/29/2016

This year, we are working with third graders after school, and we notice that they have new discoveries and needs different from the 4th and 5th graders we’ve worked with previously. Here is some of what they are learning (and what we are learning about them!):

  1. Many third graders have never used hand tools before. They love the tiny precision screwdrivers and don’t intuitively recognize that they need to pick a right-sized screwdriver for the screw. Tinier isn’t always better — a standard No. 1 Philips screwdriver is often our go-to. (What made us realize this was that we had lost one or two of these over the summer and suddenly we were scrambling to share!)
  2. They’ve never heard “lefty loosy, righty tighty.”
  3. The simultaneous push-down-while-turning dual action of screwdrivers is tough for them to master, especially when they are tackling a new screw. We sometimes have to get them started for them. However, they tend to have high levels of perseverance for removing multiple screws. What facilitates this is that we try to put at least two kids on a toy at a time so they can take turns.
  4. They are less interested in the science of circuitry and more in the wonder of the stuff they find inside. They reacted with enormous wonder to polyfill inside stuff animated creatures.
  5. Speakers are magnetic and much more interesting to them than circuits, capacitors, or resistors.
  6. Cutting wires is more awesome than discovering what components are connected by the wires.

Taking parts home is part of the fun.

I’m tickled to see how many life skills these kids are acquiring as they go on. It’s empowering to master the art of driving (or, in this case, “undriving”) screws. And fascinating to realize we’ve now been in this making and tinkering business long enough to see the different ways kids react depending on their age and experience.

Have you hosted a takepart, wreck lab, or appliance autopsy event?

Kristin