2017 Highlights: How Maker VISTA Builds Bridges Between Learning Spaces

As 2017 comes to a close, we want to take time to highlight the many achievements of our program participants, partner organizations, and staff members this year. Our work wouldn’t be possible without the dedication, passion, and inspiration that our partners bring to their schools and organizations each day, and we’re grateful to know and support each and every one of them. If you’d like to support our efforts, your donations will help us continue our work with our amazing partners.

Our Maker VISTA program focuses on overcoming poverty through maker education. Read on to see how just a few of our VISTAs are working to build opportunities for more educators to create meaningful, interdisciplinary maker learning experiences. 

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Image courtesy of San Fernando Middle School

Encouraging Cross-Curricular Connections at San Fernando Middle School in San Fernando, CA:

The dynamic Maker VISTA duo of Lyna Abal and Carey Habinger has been working hard to pilot cross-curricular maker projects at San Fernando Middle School (SFMS). They kicked off the school year by reaching out and planning a making project with a 6th grade history teacher, Mrs. Rigamat. This marked the first time a history class has been involved with making at SFMS!

The project was tailored to fit the curriculum focus of ancient Egypt, accessing students’ prior understanding of mummification and applying that knowledge to recreate the process of Egyptian mummification on stuffed dolls. Students also created and designed their own canopic jars and sarcophagi.

Lyna hopes to continue the extensive efforts she made towards in-class integration of maker concepts during last school year through projects like this one. Driven by Carey’s interest and expertise in History, and Lyna’s desire to put a more interdisciplinary focus on making, both VISTAs hope to continue to iterate on these ideas with more subjects and classes at SFMS after the holidays.

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Image courtesy of Salmon Public Library

Bringing Schools & Libraries Together at Salmon Public Library, in Salmon, ID:

October was a whirlwind of school visits, project planning, outreach emails, and debriefs for the Maker VISTA members at Salmon Public Library. Within a week of coordinating and supporting the library’s first-ever professional development workshop, VISTA members Francesca Bessey and Jesse Hunt began collaborating in earnest with participating educators to create maker activities for their sites.

Francesca spent an afternoon at a local charter high school, running a catapult-building contest and the infamous Egg Drop Challenge. Meanwhile, Jesse brought a suitcase full of raw materials to a middle school classroom and led students in a rapid prototyping exercise. Both Maker VISTAs are building recognition and rapport at local schools, highlighting the library’s position as a community hub, and working to create demand and enthusiasm for the Library’s maker programs.

Hours of challenging behind-the-scenes work have paid off in the form of meaningful engagement with teachers and their students. The surge in maker-related activity has sparked critical internal conversations about tracking programs, managing contacts, and the persistent question of how to support educators while still empowering them to find their own maker path. Jesse and Francesca are looking forward to continuing to build on this newfound knowledge as their service terms continue into 2018.

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These stories are just a small snapshot of the valuable work being done through our Maker VISTA program. None of this would be possible without you: the amazing parents, teachers, administrators, librarians, and other educators who’ve helped us build a community of enthusiastic makers. 

If you want to help us reach even more educators, youth, and families in 2018, please consider making a donation!

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If you can’t make a donation at this time, but still want to support our work, please subscribe to our email newsletter to stay informed about our programs.

Thank you for your ongoing support — we’re looking forward to accomplishing even more next year. 

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