Adventures in Makerspacing

Yes, the title is slightly plagiarized. Did anyone see the movie Adventures in Babysitting? This girl is babysitting kids and everything keeps going awry. That is kind of how I feel about my first year with an “official” makerspace. That and the children’s poem, because:

When it was good it was very very good.

When it was bad it was horrid.

The good news? The bad was usually comical and a learning experience. The great news? No one even cared but me. So here goes…my reflections on year one for what they are worth.

  1. I had a makerspace but just didn’t know it was a makerspace. As a group we are too hung up on this name makerspace. Do you have a makerspace already? Ready for the test?

o   Do your students make things?

o   Do you have an area to explore new ideas or equipment?

o   Do you do individual or group projects just for fun?

If you answered yes, the odds are YOU have a makerspace. Don’t worry about the label. They key is the creation. What are you DOING in your library?

  1. Junior High parents don’t come to my activities. Sniff, sniff. My parent events were colossal failures. Am I worried? A little. Do the kids care? No. In fact, they told me they didn’t want their parents there because they didn’t want to share.
  2. You have to cook edible slime…trust me on this one.
  3. The number doesn’t matter. If you make it accessible, eventually they will come. My numbers varied dramatically (rain being the biggest issue). While I’m going to keep reaching for more, I have stopped taking it personal if attendance is low. They are busy too, and some days it is just a scheduling issue.
  4. Food trumps all. My food activities were huge. Duct tape not so much. I know…I was shocked too!
  5. It doesn’t have to just be technology, and when you do, it doesn’t have to be a lot. I only have two arduinos and two Raspberry Pis. Since we all know nothing about them yet, that is enough. We kind of sit in groups and learn together.
  6. I’m in love with MAKE: Magazine. I’ve literally clapped when it came in the mail (yes, I’m a nerd)
  7. Teachers are pack rats-and they share. Ask for what you need, they will help if they can!
  8. You can’t have too much stuff! Don’t get hung up on what you don’t have (cough-3D printer-cough). Focus on what you DO have. Origami is just as popular as learning coding on iPads. Boys like slap bracelets as well as battleship. Sometimes the makerspace voyage is more about the relationship than the product.

So, have I solved all the issues? Hardly! But I know where we are going and know what I still need to pull into my backpack to take with us.

My wish list for next year: (what I know I can do both with time and financially)

  • 20% increase in participation
  • Weekly events
  • Monthly events
  • 2 Parent/student events (I refuse to give up on this)
  • Doodler Pen-would love more than one but this is a budget thing
  • Robotic legos
  • More board games
  • Barbies (we are going to make zombies thanks to a great idea I heard from Justin Hoenke at TLA)
  • eTextiles supplies (sewing machine, LED lights, etc)

My dream list for next year: (what I probably won’t get, but would in a heartbeat if money was no object)

  • LittleBits
  • LiliPad Kits
  • 3D Printer
  • New Furniture-I really want the makerspace area to be visually appealing and more functional, but this is a huge expense and not sure how to make it happen.
  • One day a week dedicated to making in the library so kids could come anytime during the day (don’t see this happening due to testing, but I’m working some angles)

So that’s it. Nothing new or overly profound. Here is the advise I gave to librarians recently in a training. I believe as 21st century librarians we now fall into two categories

  1. Those who say I can’t
  2. Those who say you can’t stop me.

I choose to be the latter. How about you? I dare you. I double dog dare you to MAKE this year. Doesn’t matter where you start…but try this if you need more info:

http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=1313666

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One thought on “Adventures in Makerspacing

  1. Hi, I read your article “Opening the Door for Mathematics Collaboration” in Library Media Connection. I’m halfway done with my MLS, and both your article and you blog make me excited to get started with my career.

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