The App Factory: An Experiment in Game Creation

Today's guest post is written by Adrienne Matteson, a librarian at White River Elementary School in Indiana. Read on for her discussion of the App Factory, a experimental club she created to explore game design and creation with elementary school students using Gamestar Mechanic. 

 

I first encountered Gamestar Mechanic as a University of Michigan School of Information graduate student. It was woven into the “Video Games and Learning” course, taught by Barry Fishman. We were exploring the effects of teaching students how to create video games - which is exactly what Gamestar Mechanic is created to do. As described on the Gamestar Mechanic website, it is “a game and community that teaches kids how to design their own games.” Kids play through a series of quests that break down game design into various elements (such as space, rules, and goals) and challenges players to analyze how elements work together, and to fix “broken” games. After completing the first challenge, kids can then use what they’ve learned, and tools they’ve earned along the way, to create games of their own and publish them to the Gamestar Mechanic Game Alley. In our class, we were asked to play through some of the first (free) quest. I played it nonstop until I’d completed the quest - and I couldn’t wait to try it with my future students.
 


Image Credit: Gamestar Mechanic Learning Guide
 

The App Factory is Born

Fast forward three years. There are a LOT of video game aficionados in my elementary school. They pour over the Minecraft handbooks at lunch, and have their noses buried in a Nintendo DS before they even get on the bus at the end of the day. This past school year, I finally had the perfect opportunity to experiment with Gamestar Mechanic, and harness all of that video game love (which I share) by creating a before school club. The results were both predictable and amazing. We called it The App Factory. 

The main goal of The App Factory was to create an online “gallery” of games to share with the rest of the school. The plan was to use Scratch (scratch.mit.edu) to dabble in the coding, and Gamestar Mechanic (gamestarmechanic.com) to learn about how game elements work together. I limited the club to 3rd,  4th, and 5th graders, and to the number of computers in our lab - 30. I ended up with 22 creative, boisterous, hilarious, gamers. 

 

Sidebar - Scratch

If you haven’t used Scratch before: Scratch is a computer programming language developed by MIT specifically to teach kids how to write computer code. It’s also an online community in which members can share their creations, get feedback, and experiment in remixing each others’ programs. 

The App Factory met twelve times - every Wednesday morning before school from mid-February to the last week of school. I quickly realized that there wasn’t enough time to learn both Scratch and Gamestar Mechanic, so we focused on Gamestar Mechanic, and let those who were drawn to Scratch do their own thing. 

Each week, we began with a group discussion. Discussion questions focused on thinking critically about games and why we like them: 

  • What makes a bad game bad? 
  • How would you fix a game you think is bad? 
  • What makes a game a game
  • What kind of games do you like, and why? 
  • What does it mean when you say a game is “fun”? 

 

The discussions began as a way to get everyone focused for the morning, but they ended up being a really valuable piece of the whole experience. Every week they surprised me with how insightful and articulate they could be. As a group, we came to a few key conclusions:

  • A good game has to be just hard enough - games that are too easy are just as bad as games that are too difficult. 
  • A game needs to be “winnable” - if there is no goal, there is no point. 
  • “Fun” means something a little different to everyone.
  • Sometimes, playing a game is really hard work.

 

Over the course of twelve weeks, everyone played through the first quest at their own speed. Some kids worked on it at home, and I would log in on a Sunday night to find a half dozen new games published. Our little club became a community. Experts emerged for both Gamestar Mechanic and Scratch.  They cheered each other on through the levels that were particularly difficult. When they realized that Gamestar Mechanic is set up for members to rate and review published games, they jumped on board, and began sharing their games asking each other for feedback. 
 


Image Credit: Gamer by Amanda Tipton

 

By the end of the school year, everyone had published at least one game, one student has over 12 published games! For me, the big win came in our final discussion. Everyone agreed that they think about games differently now when they are playing at home. And they couldn’t wait to continue playing and making games over the summer. At my last count, they’ve published a dozen more games since the summer break began! 

 

What I learned from the App Factory

  • I definitely plan to host this club again, it was a huge hit. But I learned a lot from this first group:
  • Gamestar Mechanic is listed for 4th grade and up - for a reason. My 3rd graders, while enthusiastic, didn’t quite have the focus to read through the important text that is a part of the Gamestar Mechanic program. And they struggled with some of the trouble-shooting and systems thinking that goes into creating a game. 
  • Video games naturally foster collaboration. It seems like games would be isolating, because the program is essentially an individual challenge. But my students were constantly moving around the room, working together, asking for help and giving it. I had a few students who worked better on their own, but most had an intrinsic need to share the experience. 
  • Creativity inspires creativity. My students used each others’ games, and those they found in Game Alley as inspiration to make their own. Many times they created games similar to one in the Gamestar Mechanic quest, with their own variations. 
  • The club gave some unexpected kids a chance to really shine. We had some surprising leaders emerge over the course of the club.
  • Finally, I learned that beating a tough game level in front of a group of students will win you a lot of brownie points. I highly recommend it! 

 

Links and Examples of Student Work:

White River App Factory Gallery

 

Scratch Projects:

Car Car Car - by smileyfacesarah

Draw Something! -- by indyballer and smileyfacesarah

My Class - by rainboluvr

 

Resources:

Scratch-Ed

Gamestar Mechanic Teachers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LEGO To Release Female Scientist Minifigs Next Month

You've read -- here and elsewhere -- about how some influential folks in maker publications have focused much of their attention on the work of males, particularly white males. And this has been a big concern for us here at MakerBridge, because we think that making is for everyone and that those of us who work with makers have both a duty and an opportunity to welcome everyone. I tend to phrase it as, "If a family comes to my makerspace, I want every member to feel like they belong."

You may have read the gone-viral letter from an elementary girl to the LEGO corporation. She told the corporation of her visit to the LEGO aisle, where all the girl-oriented toys were pink, and the ones for boys, blue. Worse, she picked up on a theme of what male and female LEGO characters did in the kits pitched at both genders, writing:

[A]ll the girls did was sit at home, got to the beach, and shop, and had no jobs, but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs.

If you look at the Toys R Us LEGO Friends page, you can see that she's pretty much correct. (Who says seven year-olds can't synthesize?) The pink and purple Friends series generally does feature domestic scenes, the beach, and shopping. (An exception is a theatre kit.) 

Thankfully, someone at LEGO was listening. Mental Floss ran a story last month that LEGO is going to be rolling out three -- (is that three, THREE!, or THREE? you decide) -- minifigs who are female scientists. LEGO girls go to work at last, as a chemist, an astronomer, and as a paleontologist (complete with really cool dino skeleton). The kits should be available in August.

 

http://mentalfloss.com/article/57127/lego-release-female-scientist-figurines

LEGO To Release Female Scientist Figurines | Mental Floss via kwout

 

Some questions for you:

  • How real/important/relevant is this issue for you and the young girls in your community?
  • What female minifig would you like to see next?
  • What setting for a female minifig would you like to see LEGO develop?
  • Do you find it interesting that all three of these minifigs have brown hair?

 

- Kristin Fontichiaro

Cross-posted to the Active Learning blog

 

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An Arduino-powered instrument

This afternoon I celebrated the last day of my long weekend by making a light theremin.  “A light theremin?” you ask, “What’s that?”  I’m so glad you asked!

man playing a theremin
Metrix X. (2011). "Thereminvox / Theremin Musical Instrument [photo]." Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/metrix_feet/5964085902 July 6, 2014. CC-BY-NC-ND.

A theremin is that electronic instrument that old horror movies used to make those spooky ooo-ooooo-ooooooo noises. It's also a really cool instrument to watch and listen to someone play. Here’s a TED Talk in which Pamelia Kurstin performs some songs on theremin and talks a bit about the instrument’s history (the history bit is around 10:46).  And here’s another interesting factoid about the theremin that I can’t leave out, band geek that I am: Shostakovich wrote for the theremin! Who knew? Check out this clip from the score of Odna.  

A light theremin is a theremin controlled by a photoresistor, instead of the musician’s proximity to two antennas.  It’s one of the projects whose pieces and directions came in my Arduino Starter Kit, and it is possibly my favorite project yet. Because there's only one controller, my light theremin doesn't have volume control the way a real theremin does. That sounds like a project for another day! Until then, check out some video of my theremin, with my apologies for giving you virtuoso theremin performances in the earlier links and then my own unmusical playing here. 

This was a pretty easy Arduino project to set up. It’s not much more than a photoresistor to let me control things by moving my hand, and a piezo to make the noise. That being said, there’s plenty going on here that could be fun to unpack in a classroom. There are the obvious things: Is your class learning about circuits? About pitch and frequency? About computer programming? There’s also at least one less obvious thing: Is your class learning about ratios? There’s a mapping function involved in the programming that lets you calibrate your theremin so that you can produce the range of sounds you want to produce, even if you’re playing your theremin in a brighter or darker space.  

And how about combining some of those subject areas? Tie in a history of music lesson with what was going on in the world of science by talking about how Shostakovich was an early adopter of the recently invented theremin. Tie in some Cold War history by talking about how Theremin (the inventor) worked for the KGB, at first involuntarily, and ended up also inventing a listening device that effectively bugged a U.S. embassy for years. Spies make every history lesson more fun, and you have to admit that the gadgets are often the coolest part.

I wish the various places I learned history had tied things together that way; I still have trouble figuring out where different periods of literary history that I learned in English class map to the stuff I learned in history class! It just sort of all slides around loose in my head, with nothing to anchor it to any particular context. Not to mention, as a recent NPR story puts it, “Without some form of emotional involvement, the past is a snore.”

So anyway--the light theremin! Gateway to discussions of circuits, pitch and frequency, music history, and spies. Has anyone ever played an actual theremin? I'm kind of itching to get my hands on one, now.

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One Thing to Enhance Maker Diversity

This week, we have another post from our Fifth Monday series, in which the MakerBridge bloggers write on the same topic. In this post, we answer the question, "What is one thing you'd like the maker community to do or focus on in order to enhance diversity?"

Emily

I’d like to see everyone--myself included--start questioning the maker activities we attend or hear about that don’t promote diversity. And I don’t just mean making sure that everyone says, “Yay, diversity!” at least once during every talk or article, or that every panel discussion has a token minority representative on it. I mean that we should be making noise every time we see a maker panel that doesn’t feature multiple types of diversity. We should be full on getting ourselves in the news with the noise we’re making. 

 Look at the splash #WeNeedDiverseBooks made earlier this month. Did they solve the problem of the all-white, mostly male panel headlining BookCon?  No, but they did get another panel created that focused on diversity, and they got so much publicity that I will be surprised if next year’s BookCon doesn’t go out of its way to be more inclusive with its main lineup.  

Makers need to be doing that, too. We need to be so vocal that people can’t help but to hear that we need to highlight diverse makers. 

To do that, we also need to recognize those diverse makers when we see them. I know a lot of people have said this before, but it bears repeating: Not every maker will be messing with electronics and using a 3D printer!  I mentioned in a previous post how much I loved Leah Buechley’s message here, part of which is that we’ll find much more diverse makers if we remind ourselves of how many diverse types of making there are. Makers are already diverse. We need to make it clear that the Maker Movement welcomes and celebrates that diversity. And one way to do that is to make lots of noise when we see places we need to improve. 

Diversity quilt by Flickr user oregondot

Kristin

My advice is to populate your makerspace with multiple types of activities that send welcoming cues to multiple types of people. For example, try planning a robotics work time at the same time as a floral arranging class -- they'll draw in two different kinds of people, and there could be some interesting (and literal?) cross-pollination. I've noticed this in our own maker work and also heard about this from maker participants. Recently, a woman told me a story about going to her library makerspace. She looked in the room and saw a bunch of wires and components. "Oh, that's scary. That's not for me," she said, turning to leave. Then she saw a pincushion and a pair of scissors sitting on the table. "Wait a minute. I could do that," she said. And she stayed ... and even dabbled with the circuits! 

 

Sharona

One thing I would really love to see to help increase diversity would be clear codes of conduct/anti-harassment policies for makerspaces, maker faires, workshops, and any other space or event where makers gather. This has been a big topic recently in the world of comic/sci fi/general geek conventions, and author John Scalzi has made a point to speak on it. It is an unfortunate truth that minorities (women, people of color, LGBTQ people, etc.) face harassment, sexism, racism, homophobia, and other situations that introduce fear or danger into otherwise pleasant activities. Developing and publicizing policies to combat these issues can help makers who fall into these groups to feel safe, respected, and accepted by the community as a whole. This can go a long way to improving and encouraging diversity in the maker movement. It is especially helpful to post these policies on websites, promotional materials, and so on, allowing potential makerspace members or maker faire attendees to know beforehand they will be entering a safe space.

Although you may feel it is obvious you won't tolerate attacks on minorities, it's important to set down clearly what constitues as inappropriate behavior and what the consequences will be in the event of a policy violation. A written policy can be enormously reassuring and welcoming to new makers. For some good resources and examples of how to devise this type of policy, check out Geek Feminism Wiki's page on Conference anti-harassment, the Lone Star 3 convention's Code of Conduct, and the Wikimedia Foundation's Friendly Space Policy.

 

Do you have a different answer to this question? Want to add someting we didn't think of? Let us know in the comments or tweet at us!

 

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MakerBridge in Publishers Weekly

This week, MakerBridge was featured in Publishers Weekly as part of their coverage of the American Library Association (ALA) 2014 conference, upcoming at the end of the month. Since makerspaces in libraries are on the rise and will be discussed at various sessions during the conference, Shannon Maughan (a librarian and Publishers Weekly contributor) was interested in finding out more about the place of maker culture in libraries.


The ALA Annual Conference will be in Las Vegas this year--are you attending?

 

We at MakerBridge are always excited to see librarians’ growing interest in the maker movement. If you’re just finding this site as a result of the Publishers Weekly article, I just want to say welcome! You may want to take a look at this blog post that answers some basic questions about the community.If you’re looking for ways to get involved, please follow us on Twitter and/or grab the RSS feed for our blog, which updates weekly.

 

Expanding on what I said in the article, I believe makerspaces and maker culture fit really well into libraries because libraries already exist as spaces of access, sharing, and learning. Although 3D printers tend to be the poster child for the maker movement, they aren’t required in order to have a makerspace; libraries can participate inexpensively and easily just by offering a place for creative, hands-on projects that stress collaboration and the DIY spirit.
 

makerspace at Baltimore County Public Library
Image Credit: Innovate @ Your Library - BCPL | BCPL Photo

Makerism isn’t technically new, as a whole and in libraries specifically. People have been using specialized skills to create and explore for a long time, and the library has always served patrons in their efforts to refine these skills. With the recent focus on STEM/STEAM development, however, and as a reaction to disposable consumerist culture, the maker movement has taken hold. As libraries continually look for ways to serve their communities and to correct the public perception of the library as a book warehouse, it makes sense to delve into makerspaces as a way of expanding--rather than replacing--the library’s existing functions.

 

Anyway, if you’re just joining us, we’re happy to have you! And if you’ve already been part of the MakerBridge community, we’re so glad you’re here. What do makerspaces mean to you? Why do you think it’s important for libraries to be involved with maker culture? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet them to us @makerbridge!

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Making as a Family: Two New Reads and a Classic

 

Earlier today, I was handed a battered copy of Brandenberg and ALIKI's What Can You Make of It?  This 1977 Greenwillow "Read-Alone" book tells the story of a family of mice. What the father mouse considers junk (empty egg cartons, juice cans, milk cartons, toilet paper tubes, spools, old magazines), other family members insist upon keeping. And so it takes extra moving vans to get all of their trash-or-treasures to their new house, upon which they fill the garage and -- bonus! -- now have a bunch of must-keep packing boxes. Long story short, the "rubbish" becomes the materials a crazy day of making. Spoiler alert: the family uses their new creations to put on a circus, complete with monkeys made of spools, oatmeal canister monkeys, and lots of boxes for stage decor. It's a joyous book about the pleasures of using what we already have to create what we want, and then to pool those creations into something that brings community pleasure and enjoyment. It also epitomizes a belief about makerspaces that has crystallized for me during the past year, when I have found myself saying often, "I want our makerspace to be a place where all members of the family feel welcome." (Hmmm ... did read What Can You Make of It? in 1977 and store up this idea all this time?) If someone had visited my family home in 1977, they would have seen a lot of this kind of making going on.

Sound like fun? Two new books can help establish this idea of a family of makers, either at home or in a school, library, or community center setting.

 

Mark Frauenfelder may be best known as a founder of Boing Boing and editor in chief of MAKE magazine, but kids may soon know him as the author of Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter Projectsa collection of guided projects designed for a parent and child of any gender to do together. The projects are a bit difficult for a kid below the age of 9 to do independently, so they're perfect for lazy Saturday afternoons spent pooling a parent's skills with a kid's ambition. But you could end up with a handmake rocking chair, a new skateboard, or a musical instrument.

 

 

 

Families with children under 5 might prefer Rachel Doorley's Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors, based on the blog of the same name. Doorley, an art educator, has turned her family's dining room into a studio for her two young children. Her book talks about great materials to have on hand, what to put within arm's reach of a child (and what to do with your child instead), and art and science concepts that can be explored via "provocations" (interesting objects and materials left out) and household ingredients. While Maker Dad will guide families through the creation of projects designed by the author, Tinkerlab is more focused on creating space, culture, and climate for child-centered creating. Scattered throughout the book are interviews and influences from Doorley's Palo Alto community, including interviews with staff from Stanford's well-known Bing Preschool, its d.school (of which her husband is a leading figure), and excerpts from the work of renowned arts educator Eliot Eisner. If you're a member of NetGalley's digital galley service, Tinkerlab is still available for request!

What other books have been influential in your family's making?

- Kristin Fontichiaro

Cross posted to the Active Learning blog

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Emily Makes Stuff: Sparkle Squid Edition

Hello world, and greetings from New York City!  I've been here on a brief vacation, and while that *has* involved normal(ish) New York City vacation things, it has also involved the penultimate step in a project that I began almost a year ago: the Sparkle Squid.  This is a project that began with me crocheting a hooded scarf with tentacles, based on Rhea Richardson's Kraken of the Sea Scoofie, for a friend's birthday.  Homemade gifts--always the best!

The project continued with that friend's winter-holiday gift: All the pieces necessary to make Adafruit's Sparkle Skirt.  Yep, that's right, the completed gift was to be a hooded kraken scarf that lights up and responds to the movement of its wearer.  Awesome!

It should probably be noted at this point that although I have played a little bit with Arduino since last I posted about what I'm making, I haven't exactly done *much* with Arduino, and I don't think I've touched it at all in the past six months.  Since my knowledge of electrical circuits still leaves a lot to be desired, this was something of an aspirational project... and that probably explains much of why it has been going the way it's been going.

You see, this is the second time I've come to New York City to spend a weekend visiting my friend and working on the Sparkle Squid, and it's only today that I have anything to show for it.  The first time I was here, I learned two valuable lessons that I should have already known, but apparently had forgotten:  1) READ THE DIRECTIONS.  Read ALL the directions.  Read them closely, including the "For more information" bits that you might think you can skip.  Also, 2) Never, ever begin a project at the high end of your skillset when you are exhausted.  

If you haven't guessed it already... I spent much of that weekend agonizing over stitching in circuits and LEDs, only to rip it all right back out again and start over.  And over.  And over.  On the bright side, I stopped worrying so much that I was going to fry the FLORA that runs the Sparkle Squid.  If that were going to happen, I'm reasonably certain it would have happened very early on.  Being relieved of that worry freed me up to mess around more and see what (if anything) worked.  Unfortunately, at the end of the first weekend, what worked could be summed up like this: Nothing (except maybe the FLORA drivers we installed on my friend's computer--but we weren't actually sure about that).  

This weekend, I returned to NYC and the completely non-functional Sparkle Squid.  The making festivities began with some brief attempts to salvage the work of the first weekend, before ripping it all out so that we could start over.  This time, we payed attention to things like, "You should check your work with a multimeter as you go."  That's actually a third thing I've used on this project: 3) Checking continuity and voltage with my handy, new multimeter.  

using a multimeter
using the multimeter

We also did a much better job this weekend with reading the directions (although one not-reading-enough incident led to further ripping out that set us back an hour or two).  

The end result?  The Sparkle Squid does not yet have the accelerometer attached to it, but the circuit works, the LEDs light up, and I am entirely too excited about this thing.  Take a look at some video of it in action!

me with the semi-completed Sparkle Squid

 

 

 

 

 

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Four States of Making?

As our semester came to a close, we held our second exam-week North Quad MakerFest. (Sofia Gutierrez wrote about our December event here.) MakerFest is about making, not showing off what you've made. With that in mind, we don't have exhibits; instead, we have several stations for easy-to-pick-up DIY activities, from LEGO to crochet to Little Bits/KORG kits for electronic music composition. This semester, we also had Music Tools available from the Ann Arbor District Library, Arduino classes from Hall Hands Active, and instead of holiday cookie decorating, we had a healthful fruit kabob station.

What surprised me this time around was that some of our high-tech offerings repeated from last term were less popular this time around. Arduino and 3D modeling didn't have the buzz that our Project Runway clothing upcycling station or our Shrinky Dinks and rubber band bracelet table. We collectively wondered aloud if this was because at the end of a long, high-intensity school year, our grad students were just tired of sitting in front of a screen and wanting to play with hands-on novelties. And it continues to surprise me how popular and novel a sewing machine is!

As I ramp up to attend an IMLS conversation on the future of library spaces, with an eye on learning spaces, I think it's important to recognize that making isn't necessarily learning.  I've seen several distinct sets of making this year, and I'm tentatively naming them calming, puttering, progressing, and producing. And I think all are legitimate maker modes.

Calming - Many of our makers this year came from tough backgrounds or, in the case of our middle school site, a loud, frenetic, and sometimes physically uncomfortable school day. I noticed that some of our makers didn't come to us seeking stimulation. They needed to calm down. The repetitive motions of friendship bracelet knotting, crochet strands, or stacking LEGOs help them to self-soothe. We need to recognize the important value that these "simple" activities bring to some.

Puttering - Some makers like to try something, wander, look at what others are doing, try something else, etc. (We even have a mentor who likes to work this way, so it is by no means a negative state in which to be!) These students may have a strong need for social interaction, struggle to concentrate, or crave the one-on-one attention that a mentor can provide. Sometimes, these makers do best when guided toward an activity that requires movement, like video-interviewing other makers, being the "reporter" or photo-documentarian, or staging/acting in a film. I can also think of a student for whom puttering meant, "I really don't want to be here."

Progressing - These are makers who have settled into an activity and are actively engaged with it. They're clearly learning because we can see them building new skills along the way. They may be receiving active guidance from a mentor or peer, which makes it easier to see that they are learners.

Producing - Not all making needs to result in production. The exploration of the other modes can be just as valuable. But once a maker has settled into an activity or set of materials/tools, and has completed any guided tasks to pick up skills, then it's a pleasure to watch them take making into their own hands. Their learning may have happened already, or their learning may be occurring below the surface. They look active, or they may seem pensive and reflective as they plan what comes next. They may move in and out of this state, sometimes moving into the puttering zone when they become frustrated or need a fresh perspective.  They may be in what Csikszentmihalyi calls "flow."

Do these states resonate with you?

What have I missed?

Cross-posted to the Active Learning blog

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A2 Mini Maker Faire 2014

This year, we attended the Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire again and had a great time! We recognized some exhibitors from last year and met new ones, as well. If you want to know more about how this free, volunteer-driven event gets put together, make sure you check out our interview with Emily Puckett-Rodgers.

Take a look at some of our photos below, and head over to Flickr to view the full set of pictures.


These interlocking lizards from Maker Works were really well done and fun to play with, too.


We got to watch rope being braided--something we'd never seen before.


The Rat Pack robotics team had the coolest hats.


I had a lot of fun playing with this Mega Tetris game created by Lansing Makers Network.

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Happy birthday, MakerBridge blog!

May marks the one-year anniversary of the MakerBridge blog!  While the site did exist before the blog, our blog has become a major part of our efforts to spread the word about making and its intersections with education and diversity and a host of good stuff.  In honor of our birthday, I wanted to seize this opportunity to highlight some of our most popular posts from the past year.  Without further ado:

birthday cake!

Image: Birthday Cake by Theresa Thompson.

Makerspaces in Academia

Makerspaces, coding/programming, and DIY activities are quickly gaining traction and momentum in mainstream culture. As more people become interested in making and hacking, places with the space, equipment, staff to assist in these endeavors and to encourage collaboration and sharing between makers, become necessary. Public libraries in particular have been quick to recognize this need and step up to provide these services to their communities. While public libraries all over have started makerspaces/hackerspaces, academic libraries seem to be less vocal or even visible in the maker movement as a whole. Below, I exhibit a few of these spaces as they exist in academia...

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Books For Educators Interested In Starting A Makerspace

This week, I've been reading The Makerspace Playbook: School Edition. It's full of great information and ideas for anyone looking to start a makerspace, and I fully recommend it. One of the best parts (besides the fact that it's free) is that it keeps recommending other books and resources for more information. Those recommended titles have topics ranging from pedagogy, to how to lay out your space, to how to choose what tools to acquire, to all kinds of other useful information for anyone who's looking to set up their own makerspace.

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Guest Post: A Makerspace On A Budget

A few weeks ago, the Makerbridge Twitter feed got a query about how to start a low-cost makerspace. That's really up our alley here at the University of Michigan School of Information, where our Michigan Makers project partners graduate student mentors with middle school makers.

A few months ago, YALSA asked Rachel Goldberg, the faculty mentor for the East Middle School side of the partnership, to write about it, and they've kindly granted us permission to reprint it here.

Read all of "A Makerspace On A Budget"

Maker Culture At The MLibrary Festival Of Learning

While considering what to write about for this week’s blog post, I stumbled across an event happening right on the University of Michigan campus where I work. Even more interesting, this event--the Festival of Learning--was planned and hosted by the campus library. I am always eager to see how academic libraries are incorporating maker culture, so I stopped by a few of the sessions to explore.

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The Fear of Breaking Things

In the time since I left you to ponder the etymology of anions and cations, and how that relates to anodes and cathodes, I have continued working my way through The Arduino Projects Book. I built myself a simple circuit with a switch, a series circuit with a switch, and a parallel circuit with a switch. Then I moved over to the actually interesting projects, and right away I ran into something that left me confused. Suddenly, without explanation, the circuits I’m instructed to build are putting the resistors on the cathode side of the LEDs I’m lighting up, instead of the anode side like they were before. Does order not matter?

Read all of "The Fear Of Breaking Things"

 

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Whether you've been with us from the start, or you're just joining us now--we're glad you're here!  Here's to an awesome year of makers and making.  And many more!

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