Every time I think of planning Maker programs, I think of this meme. No matter how many Maker programs I plan, I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. But, I’ve learned to embrace this. Being a Maker isn’t about knowing what you’re doing: it’s about tinkering, taking risks, and being willing to learn.
Back to School time is a great time to embrace new programming ideas. If you aren’t running Maker programs yet (or are looking for a new idea), why not start with Un-Making?
Un-Making is a chance to take things apart and see how things work. It’s an opportunity to break things and practice using tools. Un-Making is about process rather than result. At the end of an Un-Making project, you will have a pile of random parts, not a pretty finished product. Un-Making gives participants a chance to explore and interact. Some students may walk away from a project with intricate knowledge of how a computer is put together, others may simply walk away knowing how to use a screwdriver. The takeaway is up to individual participants: you are there to facilitate.
How to Start:
Put out an all-staff request for broken appliances and old computer parts. Or, go to your local thrift store and see what’s there. Get a variety of items: old toasters, keyboards, TV’s: whatever you can find. Once you have gathered your items, cut off any electrical cords. This will ensure that students won’t plug things in, thus eliminating the risk of electrical shock. Some people fear that electricity can be built up in old electronics. If this is a concern, lock everything away for a week before cutting off the cords to make sure that items haven’t been powered up recently.
Next, buy or collect screwdrivers of all shapes and sizes. Hardware stores sell basic screwdriver sets. Staff members may have old tools they can donate.
How to Run an Un-Making Program
Have a drop-in program where teens can socialize and take things apart. Think about holding the program in a central location. This way you can attract more participants, especially students who don’t normally think of attending library programs. Invite people to stop at the table to loosen a screw. You might want to pre-loosen harder screws to make it easier for kids to start. This gives teens an opportunity to try something new, whether they choose to spend five minutes or an hour with you.
Benefits of Un-Making
Righty-Tighty, Lefty-Loosy: Un-Making gives students a chance to practice small motor skills and learn how to use basic tools.
Confidence: Un-Making has made me more confident in my own fix-it skills. The other day, our microfilm machine was on the fritz. â€œOld Meâ€ would have said â€œNuts to this! I’m calling for a repair!â€ However, â€œNew Meâ€ said â€œLet’s see what I can do.â€ I found our microfilm machine’s user guide online and discovered that it was an easy problem to fix (cleaning a dirty lens). Five minutes later, our machine was back to its old self. Yes, cleaning a dirty lens isn’t the most challenging of tasks, but Un-Making gave me the confidence and inspiration to even attempt to fix the machine.
Was your program a success? Do you have a table full of random parts? Turn your Un-Making into Re-Making! Check out these fun crafting ideas:
Have you found/invented any cool Re-Making projects? Let us know in the comments.