Making MAKING Happen Through Maker VISTA
Our Maker VISTA program focuses on overcoming poverty through maker education. Maker VISTA members serve at partner sites around the country to impact organizations and the wider community through partnership development, volunteer recruitment, community building, resource creation, educator training, and much more.
At Bethune Middle School in Los Angeles, Maker VISTAs Corina Penaia and Shelly Tersolo have been working closely with some of the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) classes, in which students are designing and building their own bridges with their classmates. Shelly and Corina completed two maker projects in the maker studio: the S’more Solar Oven and a tutorial on making rock candy. Although they encountered a few challenges during the engineering process, they were able to use those challenges to initiate a valuable conversation with the students, discussing why some things didn’t work as planned. Shelly and Corina are currently planning and coordinating a community event called “Hands Around Bethune,” for which they will be hosting a parent workshop in the maker studio on campus, coordinating community volunteers, and facilitating a food drive.
At San Fernando Middle School, Maker VISTA Lyna Abal collaborated with science teacher, Mrs. Silberschein, to help students learn about the three methods of heat transfer through making:
“The class was learning about Earth Systems, specifically heat transfer – thus the idea of having them come up with their own lab to show the types of heat transfer. We laid out all the materials we had in our space with the intention of asking students to use what they thought would work to show heat transfer. It was a success! Students took to creating prototypes showing conduction, convection, and radiation. Even those that experienced some challenges in expressing these methods were soon able to come up with their own understanding after talking through it, and being given time to think about the design of their work. This project allowed them to be free and creative, plus take ownership of their learning.”
Lyna also collaborated with another teacher, Mrs. Kizito, on a lesson around plate tectonics. Lyna and Mrs. Kizito began with the original lesson, and worked together to tweak it by incorporating cardboard automata to show how plate boundaries move. In piloting, practicing and prepping the activity as a team, Lyna and Mrs. Kizito furthered their partnership and increased both of their feelings of confidence and excitement around maker-integration.
At Grass Valley Elementary School, Maker VISTAs Crystal Le and Maria Renteria designed, planned, and organized a successful maker event called “Hack Your Halloween,” which provided students an imaginative space to alter, embellish, or create costumes. The students expressed their creativity immediately, developing renditions ranging from Olympian Simone Biles, to tulle skirts, to Ghostbusters’ packs, Trick or Treat bags, and princess jewelry accessories. Crystal and Maria are excited for November 15th when their school’s makerspace, the Wonder Workshop, will hold its Grand Opening celebration. In addition, their site is proud to partner with the Barnes and Noble in Emeryville for a special fundraiser, in which their maker program will receive a percentage of the net sales from November 5th through November 10th.
From prepping to planning and engaging with young makers, Maker VISTAs Tobie Irvine and Gary Hall were integral to the success of their site’s presence at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire on October 23rd. The duo facilitated student making projects at the event itself, in addition to spending weeks in advance organizing, tracking, coordinating, and troubleshooting all nitty-gritty logistical details. Gary and Tobie have also been documenting and considering routines and processes in maker-centered learning. By observing and also participating in grade-level projects, as well as in group learning settings, these Maker VISTAs are identifying best practices around integration and inquiry, and recording and sharing work through channels such as a blog mentoring series and a newsletter. In the coming month, Tobie and Gary hope to engage the local Lighthouse community through documenting high school making projects, including poster printing, vinyl cutting, and 3D Printing.
This past month, Maker VISTA Sam Erwin has immersed himself in development projects, working closely with Development Director Jakki Spicer. Sam drafted a “Welcome Email” series to be issued to newly joined members of the Maker Ed community, streamlining the trigger system and timeline for those communications and already increasing click and open rates. Sam continues to research and propose strategies and ideas for both Maker Ed and Maker VISTA fundraising efforts, and looks forward to continuing his contributions towards the organization’s End of the Year campaign. In his recent dedicated making hours, Sam crafted a giraffe and a standing desk. He regularly tweets the story of his cardboard “squad” of animals @MakerVISTA on Twitter.
At the Ravenswood Makerspace Collaborative, Maker VISTAs Becca Hoskins and Jenn Torres helped their supervisor, Nico Janik, run a breakout workshop in a district-wide professional development day. They provided training to Ravenswood City School District teachers on tools used in the makerspace, working with them in small groups to demonstrate different skills throughout the day. Jenn worked with teachers on Hummingbird box monsters, while Becca showed her groups how to use iPads and the Lego Movie Making app to develop stop-motion animation videos. Next month, Becca and Jenn will be engaging the community by working with Santa Clara University, All Students Matter, and EPA Made on volunteer recruitment. More information on the RMC can be found via Becca’s newly launched Twitter account, @RavenswoodMakes
Maker VISTAs Jacqueline Boals, Hannah Hahn, and Dan Mailman hosted El Mercado Latinoamericano de Chattanooga, an open-air market of vendors from the Latino community for the first-annual Dia de los Muertos event on October 29th. The event boasted a strong turnout, a diverse crowd, and a rich opportunity to connect with many people in the community about creative work, the maker movement, and to celebrate Latino culture. The Maker VISTA team facilitated several making activities tied into Dia de los Muertos, such as making hojolatas (embossed tin), sugar skull masks, and cempazuchitl (traditional marigold) flowers, all of which could be added to a community altar constructed out of one of Art 120’s signature mobile art bikes. In continued efforts to build neighborhood engagement and shine light on local culture and craftsmanship, next month the Maker VISTAs will organize classes, art bikes, a hot chocolate bar, and an art supplies drive at Mainx24, an annual festival that celebrates the “Southside” area of Chattanooga where Art 120 is located.
In Atlanta, Maker VISTAs Caitlan Cole and Greg Robbins spent recent weeks preparing for STEAM Career Days – and their hard work and efforts shone brightly. They recruited 35 presenters for middle and high school students, and 45 presenters for elementary school students. These presenters were professionals serving in a variety of STEAM fields, selected in order to share their career insights and inspire the next generation of innovators. Over the two days of this event, students heard from engineers, musicians, scientists, architects, dancers, entrepreneurs, and doctors. To seek out, schedule, and coordinate these presenters, Caitlan and Greg worked closely with local businesses, parents, and community partners, as they conducted personal, focused outreach, built new relationships for Drew Charter, and strengthened existing collaborations. See more of the amazing connections that transpired during these STEAM Career Days on the STEAM at Drew Charter website (created by Caitlan).
Maker Moments is a monthly series that profiles the achievements and capacity-building work of our Maker VISTA team. Check back next month, when we’ll add in moments from two more of our VISTA partner sites – ReCreate in Roseville, CA and Computers 4 Kids in Charlottesville, VA.