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.


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


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

Just in time for Teen Tech Week planning, the last 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.

Project evaluation

Making it work

The libraries are doing an exceptional job implementing programs at their libraries. Below are some examples of how the pilot libraries have integrated the maker culture into their libraries and embraced making in all forms.

  • Some libraries implemented weekly open making time. Others have a variety of programs offered throughout the week—each with a specific topic or focus.
  • Not all programming is at a specific time and place. Stealth challenges prove to be a good way to expand the makerspace idea and allow participants to be creative on their own time schedule. Daily or weekly challenges are set out and require little or no staff time to implement. Some libraries tethered digital cameras near the challenge so kids could snap a picture of the finished project and enter it into a weekly contest.
  • One library is looking at creating an outdoor makerspace where gardening, nature, and other related activities can be implemented. Continue reading

DeSTEMber: Robotic Kits

b696_edge_robotic_arm_kitFor the past five years, I’ve been running an after-school technology program with teens in grades 6- 8. We’ve done lots of different projects like READ posters, stop motion animation, digital art, photography, and podcasts.

This spring we’re trending into a a very different territory for us: robotics. I’m excited and scared about this venture and it will be a learning experience for both me and my staff and the teens. While our session doesn’t officially begin until February, I thought I would share some of the robotic kits we are considering purchasing.

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STEM Made Easy: Gathering Ideas for Next Summer’s Cooperative Reading Theme

I didn’t know much about STEM programming before this post – or at least I thought I didn’t. Then I did some research. Turns out, I’ve been doing STEM programming without realizing it.

Those marshmallow catapults for The Homework Machine book club and the Rube Goldberg machines both for 4th and 5th graders were STEM programs. Those bottle rockets and the lava lamps for teens were STEM programs. Best of all, they were all super fun and the kids and teens had a blast!

Rube Goldberg Machine

A machine built at Otis Library

The theme for next summer’s collaborative reading program is all about science: Fizz, Boom, Read! (for kids or as general theme for the entire library) or Spark a Reaction for teens. Both of these themes can easily support a wide range of STEM programs. Continue reading

Gearing up for DeSTEMber

DeSTEMber is sponsored by Girlstart, an organization whose mission involves empowering girls to continue STEM studies, an ambitious goal considering the White House estimates only a mere 24% of scientists and engineers are women. If you’re not particularly science-oriented, promoting STEM can seem daunting, bit Girlstart’s associated website provides a wealth of programming ideas, many in online modules, as well as an archive of DeSTEMber content from 2012. There are synchronous guest lectures planned from many top-flight science centers and zoos around the country as well, so all you have to do is dial in.


Ways to connect with DeSTEMber 2013 from Girlstart:

1. Join Girlstart’s exclusive ‘Girlstart for Educators’ Google+ community‘ to receive our DeSTEMber activities before we release them to the public.
2. Request to get your classroom involved to participate live with virtual guest speakers here.
3. Download State and National Standards aligned DeSTEMber calendar here: 2012 and 2013.
4. Follow #deSTEMber to share your classroom photos on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
5. Click here for DeSTEMber 2012!

The YALSAblog will join in DeSTEMber throughout the month, sharing exceptional STEM programming and resources for teens and tweens. And Kelly Czarnecki will be highlighting a range of Learning Labs supported by the Macarthur Foundation, and your imagination is bound to be sparked by these spaces and programs in museums and libraries across the country. We hope this constructivist movement will provide a nice antidote to the consumerism of the season.

STEM Into Winter Programming

Everyone’s talking about STEM (or the arts-added version showcased in the October issue of School Library Journal), and YALSA’s STEM task force produced an updated toolkit earlier this year to provide 41 pages of STEM programming resources just for young adult librarians.


If you’re stumped for ideas and looking how to integrate science, technology, engineering and math into your program schedule, look no further than YALSA’s STEM Toolkit.

It includes step-by-step program plans, advocacy information if you need to justify your program plans, resources, and dozens of ideas to get your program going.’ ‘ Chock-full of research on best practices and “why” STEM should be a priority for library professionals, the toolkit highlights the importance of developing a thorough program plan and guides you through initial brainstorming efforts to an adaptable teenprogram evaluation. Passive and active programming ideas from around the country are included,including three immediately replicable projects.

Check it out today! ‘ And ‘ thanks to STEM Task Force Member Jennifer Knight for the heads-up on this great resource.


YA Programming Behind the Scenes: Science Experiments You Can Eat

At our library, we would like to fit more STEM ‘ into our programming, but I struggle with coming up with STEM projects that appeal to our service age group. Anything that sounds remotely like a classroom activity is dismissed by teens.

I was pleasantly surprised when the Science Experiments You Can Eat program passed through our TAG (teen advisory group) vetting! Perhaps the appeal involved using food, as our annual Teen Top Chef competition in the fall is one of our most popular events of the year.

713 Science Experiments You Can Eat

The program had the advantage of being inexpensive, because the supplies were all household ingredients and supplies.

The experiments we carried out included:

Straw through Potato

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YALSA App of the Week: Solve the Outbreak

Solve the Outbreak LogoTitle: Solve the Outbreak
Platform: iPad with iOS 5.1 or above
Cost: Free

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a new iPad app that lets you take a stab at solving the types of outbreaks that the CDC’s “disease detectives” must respond to at a moment’s notice. Right now, there are three outbreaks to choose from with more planned for the future. In each, you are presented with the same sort of data and information that would be collected in a realworld outbreak. Using these clues, you must decide what actions to take to limit the spread of the disease and to determine what caused the outbreak in the first place. Each correct choice that you make earns you points and allows you to advance from a Trainee to a Disease Detective along the way. Continue reading

September Eureka Moments

Even if you don’t work in a school media center, I’m guessing your life still tends to run on an academic schedule when you work with teens. So welcome to the new school year! Here’s what I think might be interesting, useful, or intriguing to you and your patrons this month.

  • If your teens are interested in what’s new in the going green movement, have them look more globally to see what’s going on. In coastal Ecuador, young people from farming families are heading up efforts to save, cultivate, and redistribute heirloom seeds to revitalize the environment and help farmers prosper. Part of an organization called FOCCAHL, 20-year-old Cesar Guale Vasquez travels throughout nearby areas collecting seeds from farmers and also hosts swapping events so that farmers can trade seeds with each other in order to have more vibrant and diverse crops. Now take that for inspiration and add to it your own library’s resources on climate change, farming, and nutrition and plan an interesting program that combines science with activism and see what your advisory board wants to do with it. Many libraries now are creating their own seed libraries, and whether they’re for wildflowers or corn, they can be a great way to bring communities together, get young people to work with older people, and freshen up your local environment while doing your small part to keep the world cleaner and greener.
    Matthews, J. (2012). Ecuador’s seed savior. World Ark, May 2012: 10-15. Continue reading