What’s Happening, March 2016

Welcome back to our ongoing series highlighting “What’s Happening” at our Maker VISTA sites. Each blog will quickly introduce what our subsites have been up to during the past month, and include a link for more information.

Maker VISTA is dedicated to eradicating poverty and supports Maker Ed’s mission to create more opportunities for all young people to develop confidence, creativity, and interest in science, technology, engineering, math, art, and learning as a whole through making. Members develop the capacity of subsites by building infrastructure, expanding partnerships, securing resources, organizing maker education training, and linking communities to the maker movement.

To learn more about the Maker VISTA Project, click here.

To learn more our Maker VISTA Members, click here.


sharp - la escuelita - squareIn March, Maker VISTA Member Erik Pirmann focused on engaging parents and teachers for La Escuelita’s Makerspace. This partnership between the community and the Makerspace will lead to increased volunteer involvement and create community champions, people who will speak on behalf on the Maker Program. The connections began with a Parent Night at La Makerspace– inviting students to bring their parents in to see what they have been making in class as well as have an opportunity to make. Several groups of parents were walked through a scribble bots exercise and learned about the Maker Mindset. Erik is also creating a multi-lingual newsletter to keep the school’s community informed of upcoming events and projects, including a weekly continuation of Parent Night in La Makerspace. In addition to the newsletter, he is connecting to the community through La Makerspace’s website, Twitter (La_MakerspaceOAK), and via a Facebook page (La Makerspace at La Escuelita Elementary).


During March, Maker VISTA Members Colby Snyder and Brittany Newswanger began organizing and planning two training and development sessions outside of the Lab School. One is at the Carolina STEM conference in Charlotte, NC at Discovery Place on Friday, April 8th, and the other session will be held at a local college, Queens University with their student teachers on Thursday, April 14th. These training sessions will help expand Maker Education into the Charlotte area, as they will be training and developing other educators in Charlotte in ways to incorporate STEM into their curriculum through Making. The Maker VISTA team is also planning and participating in a school wide Earth Day Cardboard Challenge that was brought to them by Dave Hartzell, a member of Charlotte Lab and a Chapter Lead for the Imagination Foundation. Check out some of the things students have already made for the big day here!  Additionally, the VISTAs established a relationship with a local company, Insight Architecture, to design and make acoustic panels for the campus.


rmc cog logoMaker VISTA Member Montana Manalo has been learning new leadership skills and strategies this March at the Ravenswood Makerspace Collaborative, being tasked with the responsibility of writing meeting agendas and facilitating Makerspace team meetings every week for the past month. Earlier in March, the Ravenswood Makerspace team had the privilege to attend a pop-up class at Stanford’s Design School in Palo Alto. The class was called “Design Thinking,” and it was comprised of a series of memorable hands-on activities which involved brainstorms and improvised problem-solving, demonstrating that creativity is innate in everyone, not just in artists and inventors. Montana implemented the tools she learned from this workshop to get the group more involved in the development of the Ravenswood Maker Playbook. She looks forward to using more hands-on activities to promote participation and understanding at staff meetings. Meanwhile, Maker VISTA Member Victor Aw redesigned the inventory tracking spreadsheets used for the makerspaces. The reworked inventory tracking system should make it much easier to identify what items need to be ordered or replaced, as well as make it easier to keep track of how items have been distributed through the district. Meanwhile, the RMC volunteer program continues to evolve and grow, with the Ravenswood VISTA team working to improve the volunteer system to effectively track service hours using Volgistics.com.


pastedImage copy-445x445Maker VISTA member Matt Moore, partnered with one of the seventh grade science teachers to explore the functions of the hands through making. Thanks to former Maker VISTA Member David Perlis, for sharing the Cardboard Grabbers Project Guide, SFMS students were tasked with designing and engineering cardboard hands with recycled cardboard, straw, glue, and string. This project was accomplished by support from Los Angeles Education Partnership volunteers and Science Instructional Coach. You can see all of the support they provide schools  and learn more about them here!  This coming month Matt is excited to partner with Hackerspace LA and create guidelines for an upcoming project: making LED flashlights!  


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March found Maker VISTA member Kira Watson focused on sustaining partnerships and exercising new approaches geared toward the promotion of Maker Education at Bethune Middle School. To make this opportunity available to Bethune Middle School, MV Kira reached out to USC to establish a partnership and managed a limited program budget in order to purchase snacks for participants and supplemental supplies for each session. Additionally, as part of the program, Kira coordinates bimonthly activities and manages a limited budget to provide resources for each activity.   During this month’s USC Sea Grant Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP) meeting, parents and students studied how the natural making and design of animals ultimately determines their fitness for their respective habitats.

Another achieved milestone is that Bethune has identified a National Board Certified Teacher to serve as the 2016-2017 PCEP advisor and a Parent Instructor to lead next years’ activities, recruitment and retention endeavors. This speaks to the success of the program in promoting capacity building skills among our parents and school site as well as establishing a clear path to sustainability for the program. Our parents and staff now demonstrate their ability to identify key stakeholders who can train, lead and recruit the next group of PCEP participants for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year.  This achievement is truly exemplary of Bethune parents’ and teachers’ commitment to the program.


Lighthouse Creativity Lab Logo-445x445 In March, Maker VISTA member Cissy Monroe helped the first grade teachers at Lighthouse Community Charter School recreate an activity from the Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium: Light Play!  The teachers used the activity as part of their Light & Sound unit with their students.  As the Creativity Lab was still in the process of gathering and building materials for the project, Cissy was able to leverage an existing partnership with the Tinkering Studio to borrow the materials the classes needed.  Tobie Irvine wrote and submitted a first round proposal to the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Challenge, a competition that awards approximately $20,000 to ten schools from around the country to design their own makerspace.  Over the next month he and LIghthouse staff will collaborate and design renovations to Lighthouse’s current makerspace. They will submit this design to the competition in May.







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