Category Archives: Uncategorized

Houghton Lake After-school Program

34790393270_98dc2c6063_zThis week we went up to Houghton Lake for an afternoon of library making with their middle schoolers!35137090046_95fdc2c479_z

We brought up a sewing machine and a button maker for the kids to try out.35143337366_0a3bc82bb3_z

They got to make small suede wallets and learn how to use the sewing machine, some of them putting their own creative twist on the wallet!34367747223_83ebb15945_z

Over at the button making station, the kids had to option of cutting out pictures from magazines to make buttons, or drawing their own pictures for the buttons!35137090996_246a2a39f5_z

Thanks to everyone who turned out for this program, and thanks to the Houghton Lake Public Library for having us! We had lots of fun and it was so great to see what the kids came up with!

Google Cardboard Workshop in Ann Arbor

Cardboard Viewers

On Tuesday, June 6, we held a workshop on using Google Cardboard for librarians and educators around Ann Arbor.

We discussed the possibilities of using 360 video and Google Expeditions (thanks to North Quad and U of M ITS for helping us out!) in libraries.

We also spent some time — since we are makers at heart — creating our own panoramas and Photospheres using free apps with Google Cardboard.

Google Cardboard Camera GooGle Street View

If you want to check out the slides from that event, find them here.

Particiipant Cardboard

If you’d like to come to any of our future events, find them here — we’re just getting warmed up!

Puppetry Workshop in Ann Arbor

 

IMG_0096We had the pleasure this week of running a puppet making workshop right here in Ann Arbor! We focused on the Bunraku style of puppetry, which originated in Japan and is known for its naturalistic movements. The slides and resources for this workshop, including the instructions for puppet making, can be found here.

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We started out making tabletop puppets, to get used to the process and to experiment with Bunraku-style movement – focusing on the breath, focus, and weight of the puppet.

 

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These puppets were made from printer paper and invisible tape, with optional paper clips to help control the arms.

 

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After that, we moved on to making near-life size puppets, this time using newsprint paper and masking tape.

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Our participants made quick work of the large puppets and soon enough we were acting out skits with the Bunraku style of puppetry, which requires three people to control one puppet. From business men on the moon to nurses in a 1920s speakeasy, the puppets began to come to life!

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Now these puppets can take a well-deserved break after their morning of hard work. Thanks for everybody who came out, we had blast working with you all! Again, the resources can be found here and if you are interested in attending our other workshops this summer, they can be found here.

Creating Design Challenge Workshop in Ann Arbor

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This morning from 10am to noon we had 7 participants from southeastern Michigan attend our inaugural workshop on Creating Design Challenges. We had a good mix of both school and public librarians as well as experience levels.

A collection of documents (rubrics, methods, and slides + a shopping list of materials we used!) is located here!

DesignChallengeGame

We started the day off with a short (or “tiny”) Design Challenge based on our Making in Michigan Libraries-created Design Thinking Game. By chance, we were creating something to help a mermaid organize — but wait, we also had to make sure to not introduce new things as our particular mermaid’s constraint was that she didn’t like new things!

MermaidLegoDesignChallenge

In small groups our participants used a material they were familiar with — Legos — to create organizational inventions for our hypothetical mermaid. As we debriefed and continued to think about the why and the how of design challenges, we also discussed best practices for implementing them and different lengths for different focuses.

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We then introduced a second Design Challenge with a less familiar — but still inexpensive — material: Strawbees! We changed up our groups for variety’s sake and had participants consider the challenge, prototype, and finally pitch a commercial for the “something to help a fisherman relax”!

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We had a great time pitching, even showing off a Strawbee umbrella! Look at our complete album of photos here.

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If this sounds interesting (or just downright fun) check out our other events coming up this summer!

Frankenmuth Maker Idea Swap and Gathering Financial Support

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On May 8th, we had the pleasure of going to the Frankenmuth Wickson District Library to do a Maker Idea Swap. It was so great to hear about the great programs people are running in their libraries, and learn from their experiences! We accompanied the discussion with a Toy Takeapart activity, so with busy hands and active minds we got to work!

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Our notes from the event can be found here. Thanks to all of the librarians and educators who came out to participate in a fantastic discussion!  33690775884_8b38a6be73_oThen, we spend the afternoon discussing ways to gather financial support for activities or programs that our participants would like to implement in their libraries! The materials for that session can be found here.
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If you are interested in our other events this summer, you can register here!

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Cardboard Challenge @ Benzonia Public Library

The Benzonia Public Library held a cardboard challenge on Saturday, 18th February.

Benzonia Cardboard Challenge

Publicizing Cardboard Challenge

Kids and adults alike went to town on the piles of cardboard stocked up in the Mills Auditorium. This wonderful community showed us that thinking outside the box came naturally to them.

Here are some of the cardboard creations from the event:

Cardbord Giraffe
Cardbord Giraffe
A Cardboard Robot
A Cardboard Robot in the making

It was great to see so much creativity in one place. For more photos, checkout the flickr album.

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.

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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.)

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

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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.

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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.

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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

Blank cover for Made magazine

Things Learned On The Road This Summer, Part II

Blank Cover for Made Magazine

Last month, I wrote about some of the things we had learned traveling the state with maker professional development.

This month, I’d like to focus in on one finding in particular: the relative lack of awareness of Make magazine and the ensuing implications in rural and underserved communities.

Partway through the summer, we changed our summative activity that the end of the three-day workshop. Our colleague Amber created a blank parody cover of Make magazine called Made, and we invited participants to imagine that Made was going to create a special issue focused solely on their makerspace. They were asked to provide the cover headlines that would relate to the vision they had worked on during the workshop.

And that’s where things got interesting. Overwhelmingly, only one or two attendees had ever heard of Make magazine.

So what are the implications of this? What does making look like when the flagship publication isn’t a reference point?

Our observations are that without that supposedly canonical reference point, making in libraries and K-12 schools (our two primary audiences) tends to be:

  • the STEM tinkering model of commercial kits, not raw materials put to work to create a personal vision
  • more focus on soft skills
  • less focus on drones and more integration of stereotypically female activities like sewing, quilting, and knitting
  • more focused on low-cost activities that can scale up for groups rather than individual activities that cost $50+
  • less focused on Arduino and professional-grade coding

Do you notice anything similar in your space?

Kristin

Cross-posted from the MakerBridge blog