Maker Corps 2016: A Snapshot of Summer Making

We are full in the swing of things this 2016 Maker Corps season! We have 78 Maker Corps Members contributing to summer maker education programming at over 40 sites! Summer making opportunities for young people are underway at community centers, libraries, museums, science centers and so many places in between.

The S.C.R.A.P. Gallery, a Maker Corps 2016 site, held a Politics of Plastic camp (photo: https://www.instagram.com/scrapgallery )

The S.C.R.A.P. Gallery, a Maker Corps 2016 site, held a Politics of Plastic camp (Photo: https://www.instagram.com/scrapgallery)

One of my favorite things about Maker Corps is the amazing diversity of organizations, programs, and strategies employed to bring more making opportunities to young people. It’s inspiring to see how sites and programming evolve to meet the ever-changing needs, passions, and interests of the communities they serve. Let’s take a look at a handful of Maker Corps partner sites and see what they’ve been up to so far this summer:

In Oklahoma, Maker Corps saw a partnership between the Oklahoma STEM Foundation and techJOYnT host two camps in June, one in robotics and another in game design. After going through the data in a review of the first two camps of the summer, organizers realized that the camps enrolled only one girl for every four boy participants. Though the girls who were there were outnumbered and started off shy, as they learned the tools and saw their own abilities shine, they became engaged in learning and creating, and asked their parents if they could come back the next day. In an effort to encourage more girl participation, techJOYnT, supported by Oklahoma STEM Foundation, is running a month-long campaign in July, offering half-priced registration fees for girls.

Podcasting in C4K's greenroom (photo courtesy of instagram.com/c4kclubhouse)

Podcasting in C4K’s greenroom (Photo: instagram.com/c4kclubhouse)

Over in Virginia, Computers4Kids (C4K) is enjoying the fruits of its labors. After months of renovation and setting up their new space, the young people they serve are taking advantage of the youth-directed learning space. C4K began as a center working to close the gap between local youth who can afford a home computer and those who can’t. As computers have become more affordable, C4K has evolved into an organization that provides so much more than computer access. The Maker Corps Member at C4K has been supporting youth-driven projects from podcasting to bouncy ball creation. C4K offers both open studio hours as well as structured topic-based camps, creating space for young people to engage in making in a variety of ways.

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Past making opportunities at ReCreate include littleBits-powered moving carnivals pieces (Photo: instagram.com/recreateorg)

In northern California, making is well underway at ReCreate, an organization committed to reducing waste through art, education, and imagination. This summer, ReCreate’s Maker Corps Members are hosting several camps that inspire youth to transform unwanted materials that would otherwise go to landfills into something completely new! Their Great Cardboard Challenge camp, inspired by the short documentary, Caine’s Arcade, is happening this week. Participants will work together to build a large collaborative cardboard creation complete with lights and sound! They’re also getting ready for their annual Junk 2 Genius event where teams will compete in transforming a box of ReCreate materials into a work of art!

Over at STEAMLabs, a community makerspace based in Toronto and one of the selected sites participating in our international pilot this summer, a camp is being offered especially for girls where they will invent their own superhero, making costumes using textiles and electronics, and even build the superhero using graphics and basic coding! Young people engaged with Millvale Community Library in Pennsylvania are measuring aquaponics pipes at a local community garden, and designing and 3D printing pipefittings so water comes out of gargoyle heads! Over in Indiana, the community empowerment center Kherpw Institute is giving young people a chance to learn the science of soil, beekeeping, and urban gardening during their Urban Agriculture camp as part of their eSTEAM camp series.

These are just snapshots of a few of the dozens of youth-serving organizations participating in Maker Corps this year. Maker Corps Members and partner site staff from all of these diverse organizations are engaging with each other through our on-going virtual community of support. Maker Corps is a space where new ideas can be shared, workshopped, and piloted, and we feel honored to get to watch the amazing summer opportunities partners provide to young people take off. Stay tuned for more updates from the 2016 Maker Corps cohort, and happy making!

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