Spring semester recap

There are four more weeks of what is the very last semester of the maker senior seminar, and I’m not sure how to feel about that.

We’ve done a lot since the Makey Makeys that you may or may not have read about.  Sewable circuits and Arduinos made an appearance.  The Exquisite Corpse Rube Goldberg machine was a huge success (in that everyone created some amazing, creative pieces not in that it worked).

Ray: Symmetrical book stacking. Just like the Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947.
Peter: You’re right, no human being would stack books like this.

Texting Wedos – part of the Rube Goldberg Machine

We even did some embroidery to celebrate National Embroidery Month (February).

This class of mainly guys enjoyed the embroidery much more than I imagined.  They commented on its meditative nature and appreciated the fact that they had to slow down.  What I loved was the casual conversations that took place at the table as we all sat around and practiced our stitches.

We took some things apart and looked closely at the parts and how they worked together.

We went on a Design Hunt in the Commons and explored what worked well, how things worked together, and what designs need some reconsideration.

These outlet covers are (1) not practical and (2) not durable.

This seal caught the attention of several students. It’s not used often, and they were impressed by its design.

Next week we gear up for a month of true makerspace life where the students get deeper into their questions and interests.

In addition to facilitating the making of things, I’m also taking Thinking & Learning in the Maker-Centered Classroom, which has forced me to reflect on what it means to make things in and out of schools and what it all might mean.

There’s a lot that resonates, and I’m taking the time to unpack some of the stuff now, before it’s too late (meaning before June rolls around and I haven’t stopped to think about all the stuff coming from the text (Maker-Centered Learning: Empowering Young People to Shape Their Worlds by Edward P. Clapp, et. al.) and my IRL and virtual classmates.

Because it’s Harvard and research and such, one can really get in the weeds with the theory and analysis.  But maybe it comes down to this:

When asked about their memorable making experiences, no Agency by Design workshops participants “have described their most memorable making experiences in terms of reconceptualizing the economy or increasing their proficiencies in the STEM subjects” (Clapp 17).

Also this by Gever Tulley, founder of Brightworks School:

“The world doesn’t need more graduates with good grades: What the world needs is voracious, self-directed learners with the creative capacity to see the problems of the world as puzzles, and the tenacity to work on them, even in the face of adversity.” (p. 9).

We’re also talking a lot about agency, agentic action, and maker empowerment.  However, I’ll come back to those when it’s not the end of the day on a Friday.  And also because I’m still sorting it all out.

Makey Makey Eggs & Bakey

There was no bacon or eggs involved in these Makey Makey creations, and given their penchant for expiry that’s probably a good thing.  There were several instruments and an attempt at a flatulent door handle to name a few.

“Often in school we make projects and research and learn and study but by the end we never have anything we can use or enjoy. It was awesome to be able to design and improve and test anything that sparked our interest.”

— Parker


“Specifically, we wanted each string to play a chord. After researching, we found out that the school computers were not updated enough to do chords. But thankfully, Parker showed us how to efficiently use garage band and we had plenty of time to experiment with guitar sounds.” – Jess


“Our original idea was simply to make a trap, using a banana or a door handle so that when people touched it it would make a noise to catch them off guard. This was productive though as it taught us how to use the makey makey and also different ways of grounding it, as that was our main problem. THis proved important as our idea changed to making a guitar.” — David

“I was surprised to see that a project I made, which was just a tutorial, had over 30,000 views on the Scratch web site.  It was kind of nice to see tha something I made a long time ago had actually helped people.”  – Kyle


Makey Makey Eggs and Bakey: A reflection

That I write with great affection,

Even if this project left me a little achy.


There once was an idea, a piano,

I thought through Scratch it would sing like a soprano.

Alas, the the program was of low quality,

And me, who is of great frivolity,

Decided to give Scratch a “no.”


Then, I heard a glorious song,

From another group, it came along.

It was Garageband they had pulled up,

In my head it was stuck.

To switch to this program, it wouldn’t take long.


Off to work I went,

And a lot of time I spent,

A piano was made by another.

But another idea did I discover!

Over change of plans, I did not lament.


Every stretch and every stick,

Laying copper wire was easy but not quick!

Every bend was a compromise,

Glue was what I came to despise.

By the end I was already sick.


But low and behold,

The metal could I fold!

The bends should be copper on copper,

Then the glue will no longer be a blocker,

So my keytar I began to mold.

I was surprised at my design.

Maybe I learned it somewhere devine?

Without any effort it seemed to come,

Probably because I surf the internet until  my mind is numb.

With the pictures of cable management I had seen, it was right in line.


Time constraints were frustrating.

Good thing I didn’t spend any time waiting!

With not a moment to spare,

Or a moment to stare,

I finished the project I was creating.

All in all, it went well.


In fact, I think it was just swell.

I enjoyed this project very much.

It was different to make an object to touch.

I look forward to the next one, farewell.  

— Jasmine

Oh, hello.

photo credit: Bine Rodenberger Winter Wonderland via photopin (license)

It’s 2017.  How did that happen?  With the new year come resolutions.  Or goals.  Or things I’d like to make happen.  Some of these things include writing, taking a sewing class, getting back to the makerspace, and finding the time to reflect on what happens in the library and beyond.

What will probably be the last semester of the maker class started today.  I’m excited about the questions and ideas the kids will bring.

We started today with an overview of the course, what to expect (with the caveat that plans can change at any point depending on what they want to explore), and what they thought they knew about what it is to be a maker and what makers mean to Richmond’s identity.

We did a Think, Puzzle, Explore thinking routine to unpack their current knowledge of making and what questions they have about Makers, makerspaces, and DIY culture.

We’ll circle back to the Think, Puzzle, Explore in a few weeks to see how their thinking has evolved.

A LOT of students are curious about 3D printing (understandable).  The prospect of digging into the DIY/maker culture beyond the 3D printer is quite exciting.