Within a week of coordinating and supporting Salmon Public Library‘s first ever professional development workshop, participating educators began reaching out to Maker VISTA members Francesca Bessey and Jesse Hunt to collaborate on maker activities at their sites. These collaborations made October a whirlwind of school visits, project planning, outreach emails and debriefs. The surge in activity has also spurred 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. Hours of challenging behind-the-scenes work have paid off in the form of meaningful engagement with teachers and their students. Francesca spent an afternoon at the local charter high school, running a catapult building contest and the infamous Egg Drop Challenge. 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, in the hopes of creating demand and enthusiasm for the Library’s maker programs.
Now more than a month into their service, the Maker VISTAs are excited to be turning their attention to longer-term goals. After attending a 3D fabrication training in Pocatello, ID, Jesse is gearing up to coach a team of Salmon middle schoolers entering the Digital Harbor Foundation’s regional FabSLAM competition. Francesca is working to create training opportunities for local preschools in early childhood STEAM education. With a number of projects in the works, the team still managed to find a little time for some seasonally-themed fun by organizing a cardboard costume contest for Halloween. Over 20 kids and a number of parents joined Jesse and Francesca for an afternoon of costume-making using scrap cardboard, craft supplies and Make-Do construction kits (generously donated by the Idaho STEM Action Center). Stay tuned to see what creations the rest of the holiday season will bring!
This month, Maker VISTA members Francesca and Jesse and the educators they support are grappling with great questions like:
- How do constraints create possibility?
- What makes an activity or a lesson meaningful to students?
- How do we build the confidence needed for creative expression?