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.
In September, Maker VISTAs Tobie Irvine and Gary Hall showcased maker education through coordinating and scheduling tours for several outside groups from as far away as Egypt and Taiwan. They facilitated programming for middle school students to create their own animals using cardboard, sensors, and Hummingbird kits, and also helped high school students raise money at a gala by building a ball run for a raffle. This month, Lighthouse is holding its annual gala where the school and supporters gather to celebrate the school and raise money for the general budget. Following that week they will help facilitate a professional development session, “Designing Making Experiences,” in Palo Alto. They will also attend the FabLearn conference, and are bring students to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire on October 23rd.
Over at the Maker Ed office in Oakland, Maker VISTA Sam Erwin designed collateral for World Maker Faire, including a VISTA fact sheet and flyer that explains the work of Maker VISTAs. Sam has been collaborating with Jakki Spicer, the Development Director of Maker Ed, and working to build an individual donor campaign. To further expand his non-profit development expertise, Sam is also taking a VISTA Blend course entitled, “Resource Development: Fundraising and Grant Writing.” Sam’s recent making projects around the office include a crossbow, catapult, T-Rex, and a fish tank.
The Ravenswood VISTA team, Jenn Torres and Becca Hoskins, set up a makerspace at Willow Oaks Elementary, the final of seven makerspaces in their district. Through this experience, Becca and Jenn learned the complex processes and responsibilities necessary for running a makerspace, such as ordering robotics parts, organizing and inventorying craft supplies, coordinating repairs and support for broken technology. The VISTA team also used this month to reach out to Rotary and Kiwanis, two local charity organizations which will assist with volunteer recruitment efforts.
Maker VISTAs Crystal Le and Maria Renteria hosted a successful Back-to-School Night in the Grass Valley makerspace, where they engaged students and families in making challenges such as creating animals or building flying devices out of pipe cleaners, straws, and paper bags. They also established a social media action plan for the year and began collaborating with a number of nonprofits in the region. Crystal and Maria are proud to have made strides in outreach to both the Grass Valley and East Bay community. In addition to releasing official school-wide promotional materials (flyers, brochures, etc.), they also formed a critical relationship with Diablo Woodworkers, who have volunteered to instruct their teachers and students in constructing planter boxes as their first major Making project. The organization will generously be providing lumber, tools, and extra volunteers. Next up: the official grand opening of the makerspace!
In Atlanta, Maker VISTAs Caitlan Cole and Greg Robbins hosted their first-ever Maker Night on September 29th. It was a stunning success! They invited families and students PreK-12 to explore the makerspace and build. Around 70 families participated, and together they made wooden page holders for their favorite books. Not only did this event bring people together to learn and make, it was also an ideal opportunity to promote their makerspace open hours, the Atlanta Maker Faire, and other making/STEAM projects. As an added benefit, the STEAM Dream Team (which includes Caitlan, Greg, their supervisor, their makerspace manager, their STEAM artist in residence and their three engineering instructors) bonded over the Maker Night’s success. As fall progresses, Caitlan and Greg look forward to the STEAM Career Day at the Junior and Senior Academies, where professionals from various STEAM fields will speak with their students about their work and inspire them to pursue careers in STEAM.
In Chattanooga Maker VISTAs Jacqueline Boals, Hannah Hahn, and Dan Mailman had fun hosting at Park(ing) Day, a national event that transforms city metered parking spots into artistic exhibits to raise awareness of the possibility of public spaces. The team brought art bikes for participants to ride, and partnered with a local business, Good Dog, to provide a gift certificate for the “best” bike sculpture and discount cards for all of their participants. The Chattanooga Maker VISTA team is looking forward to a number of events in October, including establishing a permanent Maker Palace location, creating and refining curriculum, and an upcoming Dias de Los Muertos event to support local Latino and Latina artists and makers.
In Los Angeles, Maker VISTAs Shelly Tersolo and Corina Penaia forged new relationships with the teachers in the science department, which have allowed them to integrate maker curriculum into more classrooms at Bethune. The team also facilitated making by creating the opportunity for students to set up their own Maker Studio and by generating lessons for students to make aerodynamic paper airplanes as well as spaghetti bridges. Next month, Corina and Shelly are looking forward to starting a “Maker Mondays Club,” which will allow students to learn about the engineering and design process, and explore what making is all about.
Over at San Fernando Middle School, Maker VISTA Lyna Abal shares a story about a maker project with a 6th grade math class:
“Their challenge was to design our V.P’s ideal lawn, which included planters, walkways, vegetable gardens, and since our V.P. likes Hello Kitty, they had to incorporate Hello Kitty as well. While designing the lawn, they had to incorporate mathematical concepts of perimeter, area, measuring etc. They paired up, sketched their lawn, came down to the maker space to design it, and then they actually constructed it with cardboard, paper, plastic, and anything we had readily available! This project has felt the most successful thus far because it was my first maker project and I was able to witness the power of learning through making, how engaging it is and how much fun it can be! I was surprised how many students wanted to come to the makerspace on their own time during lunch; to see half the class make it was encouraging!”
Maker Moments is a monthly series that profiles the achievements and capacity-building work of our Maker VISTA team. Check back next month for more Maker Moments that may inspire your own makers and learners!
Photos courtesy of Maker VISTAs.