Salmon Public Library

January at Salmon Public Library was a big month for middle schoolers. Amidst adults-versus-kids dodgeball games (totally fair) and discovering that, 13 years later, Panic! At The Disco is still a preteen music phenomenon, the Salmon VISTA team has shared knowledge, built partnerships and developed new resources for making make happen.

Lemhi’s After-School Promise (LASP), Salmon’s primary after-school program for underserved youth, is a longstanding partner for Salmon Library’s maker programs. Until recently, however, the majority of making programs took place exclusively at the elementary school site. Last month, Maker VISTA member Francesca introduced the idea of scaffolding in a facilitation training for LASP staff. Inspired, one of the middle school program leaders came by the Library and asked to borrow a 3D-printed object to show to his students. Sure enough, their curiosity got the better of them. They wanted to know where the object came from and if they could make one too. Maker VISTA member Jesse reached out to schedule a series of lessons (scaffolded lessons — see what we did there) on 3D printing and design, which have been ongoing through the month of January. Because of the program leader’s willingness to keep coming back, the students have been able to build up their skills, working toward designs that wouldn’t be possible in a single session. With continued engagement, the Salmon Library team hopes that some students may find a genuine passion for 3D design (and join next year’s FabSLAM digital fabrication team!)

This year’s FabSLAM cohort is getting close to competition-ready with Francesca and Jesse’s support. But at a recent meeting, they got stuck trying to sort through all of the ideas they had brainstormed and pick which ones to move forward. After the class was over, their mentors furiously devoured the remaining snacks and held a brainstorming session of their own. They considered the questions they themselves might ask in order to evaluate an idea, and articulated them in a flowchart. The next week, they encouraged the students to use this “Ideation Process” to decide which of their ideas they wanted to take to the “Sketch” phase — and the gears started turning. The students are now working on refining a prototype for a new safety feature for ATVs! The success of the framework with the middle schoolers has the VISTA members considering how they can build it into future programs, in particular the in-house design thinking lab the Library plans to launch this summer.

Three adjectives or adverbs that describe making at Salmon Public Library this month:

  1. Multi-dimensional*
  2. Step-by-step
  3. Angsty

*pun intended

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