Category Archives: Events for the Public

Slides for Makerspaces Library 2.017 Webinar

Decorative - logo for Library 2.017 conference on makerspaces

Ben and Kristin are presenting today at the Library 2.017 mini-conference on makerspaces.

If you’d like to see our work in action, check out our Flickr page.

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

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.

Free Booklist Webinar Coming 10/20!

[decorative] image with name and date of webinarPlease join me for a free Booklist webinar, sponsored by Cherry Lake Publishing, on Thursday, October 20, 2016, at 2pm Eastern / 1pm Central.

Here’s what I’ll be talking about:

Primary-aged children are natural makers. They couple their imaginations with the physical and digital worlds as they poke, prod, push, pull, pixelate, and produce.  Whether using digital tools, circuits, robots, or recyclables, many of the core questions are the same: What is our role as facilitators of maker mindset and purposeful exploration? How do we set up spaces that welcome creative interactions with materials and peers? In celebration of the launch of the Makers as Innovators Junior series for K-2 students, Cherry Lake Publishing invites you to engage with these concepts and build or refine your vision for playful thinking. Presented by series editor and University of Michigan School of Information faculty member Kristin Fontichiaro and moderated by Books for Youth editor Dan Kraus.

You can register here. If you cannot watch the webinar live, an archive link will be sent to you a few days after the live event.

Hope to see you there!


Exploring the Upper Peninsula – Making and Learning at the Pickford Community Library

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(!!!).

Chris smith passes around homemade lightsaber.

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.

space2 space1

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.

Light-up feathered bracelet.
Small light-up robot.
Man made of pipe cleaners with an LED idea bulb over the head.
An actual LED lamp that stays on without pressing a button!

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.

squish1 squish2 squish3

Various creations made of conductive dough combined with a title/subtitle activity.
Various creations made of conductive dough combined with a title/subtitle activity.

Once more we’d like to thank Ann Marie Smith for being a great host, her local planning committee for the event for putting together a wonderful space, great food prepared by the Iris and Main Street Cafes, and generally supporting our project. Final note, you can find more pictures of the event on the Pickford Community Library’s facebook page, found here.

A stamping activity with various words that capture our personal ideas of what a makerspace should be.

With all three days now completed, here are our slide decks:

Making as Learning: Houghton Lake

Created with flickr slideshow.

We kicked off our first three-day workshop June 15 – 17 at the Houghton Lake Public Library. Thank you to Kimberly Young, library director, and Sarah Maddox, youth librarian, for hosting us!

From designing the ideal work bag to making playdough circuits light up, making robots run to talking about making for those with special needs, 3D modeling and printing to designing our mission, we had a great time in this deep-dive into the why and not just the what of making.

Here is some of what we learned from our peer participants:

  • Making can be a way for those with disabilities to show what they can do.
  • Shifting kids from adult-directed activities and into open-ended, student-directed activities can be tough!
  • Prototyping is a lot of fun (and can even inspire the occasional runway show)!
  • Putting people with different jobs but similar missions together can create synergies.
  • Some people have really interesting hobbies at home (quilting, making log furniture)!
  • Hands-on skills can lead to real jobs.

We even got to meet (or see again) some kids and families at our community-focused Houghton Lake MakerFest. Not only could families see a 3D printer in action, make a marble maze, play with LEGO and K’Nex, make a Shrinky Dink souvenir, drive a robot, or make a Squishy Circuit, but they could go outside to see the mobile science lab from Saginaw Valley State University. There, they could peer into the microscopic world of butterflies and water; see the SVSU drone; learn about soil and other environmental testing; and meet some skilled professors eager to share their world with them.

You can view our activities by clicking through the slides above (or visiting our Flickr album).

Day 1 Slides 

Day 2 Slides

Day 3 Slides

Next week, we head across the Mackinac Bridge to the Upper Peninsula and Pickford, the smallest town on this year’s road trip.

If you’d like to join us at a future workshop, we’d be glad to have you! You can find our complete calendar here.

Hope to see you soon!