CreateSpace at the Middletown Free Library

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The Middletown Free Library

Hello, everyone!  I’m John and I work in MC-NPL’s Outreach Department.  I have the pleasure to be assisting Tracee with the KidsMake project, and so you’ll be hearing from me on this blog as well.

KidsMake has been a collaborative learning experience for us as well, and we’ve learned a lot from visiting other libraries, seeing how they handle their makerspaces, and how they make use of their available resources.  This was how in January we found ourselves at the Middletown Free Library for a seminar given by their director, Mary Glendening, on their CreateSpace.

The setup of CreateSpace addresses an issue we’re encountering at KidsMake as well: How best to share a common area when there’s no room for a dedicated workshop space.  CreateSpace is designed for portability from the get-go.  It’s not hard to imagine the equipment being quickly loaded up in a van and taking the entire space somewhere else for an exhibition.

Thanks to Mary and the MFL staff for teaching us so much and making us feel so welcome!

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One of CreateSpace’s 3D printers and the result of its work in my hand.

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These marble run “roller coasters” made by young patrons dotted the main floor of the library.

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A variety of CreateSpace resources on display, for such things as wearable electronics and video production.

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Indianapolis…

Indianapolis

Indianapolis

My biggest discovery about makerspaces for kids during my journey from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis is…there aren’t really any.  At least none that I could find.  I was going to stop in Cleveland, but a search of their children’s events and website didn’t turn up any maker activities for kids.  Lots of adult and some teen, but none for ages 12 and under.  Ditto with Columbus.  Now they may have some great things going on, but Cleveland didn’t respond to my email request, and quite frankly I waited too long to talk to Columbus directly.

I did, however, bite the bullet and try Cincinnati.  Spoke to Nathan, technology educator for the area consortium, and had a great discussion.  But no makerspace or inquiry-based programming for kids of which he is aware.  At least during the school year.  He did suggest I investigate Cincinnati’s summer programming.  Will do!

But the lack of current programming is disappointing.  And if I am in the wrong, and someone at any of these cities can let me know it, I apologize.  I will definitely post a retraction.  But if I am correct – WHY?  Is it that new?  Is hands-on learning really so incredibly rare in libraries? Are we all waiting for the summer?  My plan is to hit the ground running this summer and use these experiences to help design an afterschool program in the fall.

I am visiting the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis tomorrow morning.  The Family Place workshop scheduled to be held there is not related to the makerspace movement or inquiry-based learning, but I will definitely be exploring the museum after the presentation.  It is reputedly the largest children’s museum in the country and I am sure that it will have a lot of interactive exhibits.  But a search of their website does not seem to include a MAKESHOP-type space similar to Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.  I will let you know tomorrow!

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MAKESHOP at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

The fabulous Katie & Derek

The fabulous Katie & Derek

At the circuits table

At the circuits table

Just got back from another incredible space – MAKESHOP at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.  These guys get it.  Here’s Katie and Derek, 2 of the 3 Teacher Artists (yes, that’s their title!) that were in the space this beautiful Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh.  They shared their experience and insights with me while simultaneously attending to the many kids in the space.

The have assured me that with the advent of a new blog on their website an educational resource section will be added – yay!  But nothing beats seeing the space, how it is designed, and how it works.  They have a laser cutter, 3D printer, a few sewing machines, a weaving loom, and lots of recycled materials for ongoing projects.  They also have real tools – drills, hammers, saws.  We talked about the logistics and safety concerns, but we REALLY talked about the philosophy behind what drives not only the MAKESHOP, but their interest in providing this hands-on learning to kids.  Katie has a background in the Fine Arts, Derek has experience working with kids in the classroom.  Both gave me fantastic advice and real-world tips on providing these experiences to large groups of children in a public setting.  Priceless.

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The Amazing Assemble

AssembleName

Assemble

GroupI am so glad I didn’t let the road closed signs and one way streets deter me from finding this gem.  Assemble is an amazing space that is doing amazing work.  I know, I need to work on my slight tendency to use repetitive hyperbole.  But this little space in a struggling section of Pittsburgh deserves it.

In their words, “Assemble is an open physical space in an urban neighborhood in Pittsburgh. We unite artists, technologists, and makers with our neighbors of all demographics. Assemble provides a platform for experiential learning, opening creative processes, and building confidence through making.”

Jess graciously agreed to let me stop by and speak with me about their space.  She shared that community investment and empowerment are also a primary goal of everything that happens at Assemble.  And yes, Jess was amazing, too!

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Road Trip!

Fisher-Auditorium-640My road trip has begun!  I left this morning on my way to the 2014 Public Library Association (PLA) conference in Indianapolis.  I am taking a few detours, however, to visit some great spaces that are already working with kids in a makerspace environment.  On the first leg of the journey I will be in Pittsburgh, first visiting a community makerspace, Assemble, on Saturday afternoon.  Sunday I have arranged for a tour of the MAKESHOP at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and then I plan to visit to see the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s main library in Oakland.

Meanwhile, I am stopping off at Indiana University of Pennsylvania to see my daughter perform in her latest orchestra concert.  And take her to dinner.  And maybe breakfast Saturday morning.  And watch her horrified expression when I tell her my new laptop has Windows 8.

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Read Across America at Elmwood Park Zoo

Read Across America at Elmwood Zoo

Read Across America at Elmwood Zo

We had a great day at Elmwood Park Zoo on Saturday, March 2nd.  Celebrating Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss’ birthday with us were the Berenstain Bears AND Daniel Tiger from WHYY.  As you can see, we took a building toy with us, Straws and Connectors.  It was a huge hit with kids from 2-12.

This event was a great way for us to begin to share with the community that there are some big changes coming this summer at the library!

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