Friday, May 31, 2013

Makerspace Bible: Why reinvent the wheel?

Thanks to the folks at MAKE magazine we can download the Feb. 2013 edition of the School edition of Makerspace Playbook. It covers so many of the nitty gritty aspects of setting up a lab, release forms, safety considerations.

Highly recommended:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Wikihouse: An architectural public library for designs and models

"Architecture by the People, for the People"
leads many of us to say, "If we drop the assumptions of the past, maybe the solutions are closer than we think! Group projects, open source, simple repeatable designs.

The future may be brighter than we think if we face it honestly and with a gusto of creativity.
That's what the Makerspace movement is all about...
Doesn't this house look like some of the construction kits our kids use?

Parvin's Mantra:
1. Don't Build : don't always answer a design question with a building. Maybe you need to adjust usage flow.
2. Go Small :  Think local and work in neighborhoods.
3. Go Amateur : Let local people be the catalyst

Focus on Building Projects

     An easy and rewarding program to run at any library is Lego Building. Here at the Duxbury Free Library, we turn one of our downstairs program rooms into a Lego event once a month on Wednesday afternoons. Big bins of random Legos are put out and children in Gr. K and up are invited to build. Themes can be preselected like robots, transportation, in space, buildings, or just free building opportunties. For a more active program, building vehicles with cardboard for ramps/obstacles or hosting a zipline is always a crowd pleaser. For the tech savy crowd, Lego stories could be made using Stop Motion programs, simple storytelling with a video camera, or making a photo slideshow and recording their voice over. The possibilities are endless.
     Rather than scheduled Lego meetings this summer, we will be hosting a family Lego contest for Gr. K-6 in August.  Families are invited to build a Lego creation from their own imagination at home and bring it to be judged and displayed at the library for one week. Prizes will be awarded for entries with the most creativity.  An entry form for the contest includes a place to title their work and write their own story to enhance writing skills. Forms will be available soon but it's never to early to start working on a project (just make sure it does not exceed 11 X 14 for its base).
     For the early literacy crowd,  Lego Duplo's Read, Build and Play! project cosponsored by the ALSC includes summer program handouts that detail step by step building projects incorporated into selected picture books for story time. If you don't have their selected picture books, use one in your own collection. Once you create directions, you could make a simple Duplo creation for any picture book. For example, Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord, which includes design choices to build his car, can include a building component for their own cars. They could even race! If you are pressed for time or Duplo materials, they also provide information on how to purchase already made Read and Build Literacy Kits where specific Duplo blocks are featured in each story and included in the package. This could be left out as an Early Literacy/Maker Space one-on-one activity or turned into kits to be checked out of the library. 

    For an added science component, Lego Mindstorms kits include real working robotic parts for the upper Elementary-High School age group. An international Lego League has been formed. In the early fall, a challenge is given for teams with up to 10 students. This year's challenge is Nature's Fury.  Students are programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game) and develop a solution to a problem they have identified (Project) with real world applications.
    Legos aren't the only building opportunities on the market, KEVA planks  work for the preschool and up crowd. With just a few carefully positioned planks, the sky is the limit for structures. They have their own YouTube channel which could be linked on a library computer or iPad to encourage drop in project building. There are only a few projects to get started but many other people have uploaded searchable videos.

   What about those with a tight budget? Well we all have toilet paper tubes that we save up for craft projects. How about making marble runs with those?

Stomp Rockets

Our next PHILS project was using a stomp rocket built by Chris Connors, who will help us build our own for our Cardboard Carnival. The creative part of this activity was designing our simple paper rockets. We found that the rocket that launched highest was Peter's as he had spent the time to create an actual point to the tip of his rocket and had a couple of fins on it.

The soda bottle was almost too brittle to be reliable as both bottles ended up splitting.

Next week we will build our own launcher!

Here's a link to Chris Connor's video explanation of his rocket launcher design:

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Is your computer keyboard not working? Not to worry with the MaKey, MaKey which can turn even bacon into a DIY keyboard, mouse, or video game controller.

According to the website, "the Makey Makey is an Arduino-based device that lets you turn nearly anything into a computer key. Just attach the included alligator clips to food, people, liquids, Play-Doh, or any other somewhat conductive material for a whole new level of interactivity and fun." 

This video explains it all and the possibilities are endless for programming with children and teens. Perhaps a contest for the most creative use of an object?  Or exploring the scientific method about which materials work better than others?   Stay tuned for more exciting projects as we research possible Makerspace programs.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

PHILS Makerspace club rock Bristle Bots and Solo Cup Bots

With the help of veteran Makerspacer, Chris Connors, the PHILS club got to build Bristle Bots with small phone batteries and Solo Cup Bots built on the spot with supplies brought by Chris and scavenged in our library supplies.

Our PHILS have each signed up with the folks out in Silicon Valley, CA, and are just now beginning to post some of their cool projects.

Figuring out how a circuit works opens up lots of potential for making all sorts of devices.

Here is our quick little video

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"Flipping" the classroom

 One of the latest ideas in educational practice is the concept of "flipping" the classroom. This means that homework involves watching videos of lectures with step-by-step instructions that students can follow at their own speed. Class time is spent with students working on problems and creating content with the teacher available to coach, prompt, reiterate and underscore key concepts and ways things go together.
This is a practical and efficient a way to use the wisdom and knowledge of a human teacher and emphasizes the importance of the student actively engaging in their own learning!

Here at the Duxbury Free Library we are taking this kind of learning seriously with our new subscription to, an online database of courses on all kinds of things from software to business concepts. Our patrons can jump onto our dedicated Makerspace public computer and sign up for web design courses, classes on social media, how to design a business plan, market a new product, create and push out information and media to potential clients and buyers.  

David watches course while practicing on laptop offers short and in depth courses on topics way beyond the instructional expertise of most of us. Short, repeatable video lessons breaks down the subject into bite sized chapters, easy to digest.

The Reference staff is then available to give hands-on help to patrons who are navigating new devices, downloading tools, and helping patrons find resources in both traditional and newer formats.