Idaho Libraries Shake Up the Maker Movement: Creating makers, then spaces (part two)

Just in time for Teen Tech Week planning, the second in a four-part series detailing how one state library commission facilitated a culture of learning and experimentation through the maker movement in a variety of library settings.

By Teresa Lipus, Public Information Specialist, Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) with significant input from Erica Compton and Sue Walker, ICfL project coordinators.

Timeline

Pilot libraries were selected in December 2012. Three webinars and three face-to-face trainings were held from January through November 2013.

Materials and tools

ICfL wanted to provide a variety of STEAM materials and tools so libraries could explore many different programming ideas. Selected tools:

  • supported project objectives,
  • aligned with Common Core Standards,
  • allowed for complex projects,
  • introduced motorized designs,
  • included curriculum and project ideas, and
  • included trainers or local support when possible.

materials

Materials from PCS Edventures!, Reuseum, Maker Media/MakerShed, and RepRap MendleMax 3D Printers were chosen.

Training

It was essential to enlist an experienced trainer to work with the team, and PCS Edventures provided Kellie Dean to lead the workshops. Dean is an expert on experiential learning and helped build the foundation needed to implement the pilot.

The trainings included discussions on the design process, inventory management, partnerships, evaluation, and formal and stealth programming. Staff members were encouraged to work as teams, making their colleagues an invaluable support system as they moved forward. Plenty of time was provided to work with the tools and brainstorm ideas on how to best use them in library settings. Significant time was spent with the curriculum, learning technical nomenclature, building principles, and how to extend projects in new directions. Staff members were also given an opportunity to talk about their library’s unique needs and brainstorm ways to engage the teens in their community. Frequent check-ins helped make sure that everyone was comfortable with the content and only then moved forward with more challenging projects.

training

At a two and a half day workshop in November, staff trained on 3D design and on operating 3D printers. A local company, Reuseum Educational, Inc. built the five RepRap Mendelmax printers, assisted with training, and will provide one year of technical support to each of the five sites. Maker Media out of San Francisco trained on e-textiles and circuitry, providing staff with a treasure trove of tools and ideas for programming.

The Make It at the Library project is made possible in part by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and a grant from the Micron Foundation. See more on the Idaho Commission for Libraries website at http://libraries.idaho.gov/make-it-idaho and on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MakeItIdaho.

Future posts in this series will discuss project evaluation, promotion, implementation, and next steps.

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