Super Happy Maker Fun Hour – Wrap Up

Aaron and I had a great time on Super Happy Maker Fun Hour yesterday provided by the Colorado State Library. In case you missed it, you can still watch the event here:

(Best pause of us EVER^^)

Articles and Links we mentioned:

Aha Moments

Ashley sent me questions ahead of time asked me why I am so into circuitry projects. So I started thinking, why AM I so into circuitry projects? Circuitry is AMAZING! Circuits power our world! You can learn so much about how things work by learning about circuits.

My Circuitry Journey

I started the hard way. When I started adding maker activities to my library in the spring of 2013, I decided I had to have Arduino microcontrollers and I attempted making with Arduino first! Before paper circuits, before Makey Makey,  I went to an Arduino meetup at my public library and fell in love with the concept, BUT I had no background in coding and electronics and I quickly realized I was in WAYYY over my head.

So I kept tinkering and trying to get myself to be the master maker I wanted to become. I followed lots of Arduino projects, but I still couldn’t hack the code and make my own Arduino projects from scratch.  Then…. in the spring of 2014 I held a coding focused “May ker” bonanza.  I completed Hour of Code and the Intro to Computer Science lessons from along with my middle school makers. Leah Mann loaned me some Makey Makey kits and I finally understood how awesome circuits and coding can be when you combine them together. That summer I finally received a grant and was able to buy the library some Makey Makeys, Spheros, and a ton of other stuff.  I spent that summer learning Scratch through some summer “courses” with Pursuitery.

Last school year, I started using Scratch and Makey Makey with my middle schoolers (read about the Makey Makey Challenge) and I learned even more about coding by helping them when they needed help debugging their projects. But honestly, most of those kids were way better at Scratch than me! They’d learned how to use it in elementary school and were already coding wizards. (Technically they are programming wizards, but people really enjoy the buzzword “coding” and who wouldn’t want to be a coding wizard?)

Last year I also realized I needed to set aside time for girls, so I wrote up a Donors Choose for Chibitronics notebooks so I could start hosting weekly meetings for the Circuit Girls: a STEM focused club for girls. Through helping the girls with their notebooks and creating custom cards for our donors, I learned even more about circuitry and electronics! Finally, some of the missing gaps for making Arduino projects really started filling in.

So I have to point to Makey Makey, paper circuits, and littleBits for really pushing me and giving me creative confidence. Once I became versed in understanding the building blocks of coding and the literacy of electronics, I really became more confident as a maker.

Why Project Books?

Ashley also asked me what projects I’d been working on lately. Since I’d just finished writing over 50 projects with Aaron for our Big Book of Makerspace Projects, you might be surprised to find out I’ve been hacking projects and guides from my friends. Now that we are done prototyping, researching, making, documenting, photographing and writing, I finally have time to just MAKE STUFF FOR FUN! I’m happy to finally have time to work through some projects from the Invent to Learn’s Guide to Fun by Josh Burker. Plus,I’m starting to tinker with some fun paper circuitry projects my friend Bev Ball gave me during  the Austin Maker Faire.  

You’d think I’d be tired of making stuff since I just wrote a whole project book. Why am I completing projects from others?  By completing projects designed by others, it allows me to become more invention literate.  When I start hacking those guides and making them my own, it solidifies the concepts I learned from making in my brain. 

Following maker projects can help you gain creative confidence… BUT hacking and tinkering with projects … THAT will help you internalize the meaning you gain from making. It’s why I love following projects designed by others ( and hacking them when I’m ready to internalize that learning.) (2)

This week my students talked with the Tinkering Studio (full blog post to come) and Ryan Jenkins said this awesome quote about making great projects that I think totally encapsulates how I feel about these projects I’ve been hacking.


Super Happy Maker Fun Hour, Global Maker Day, and More Makerspace FUN!

Now that one book is behind me, I realized I have quite a few presentations coming up that you might be interested in, dear reader. I’ve got 3 upcoming webinars and 2 sessions at ISTE. Read on and save the dates if you find a session you want to attend.

Makerspace Workshops

Global Maker Day – May 17th

Are you signed up for #GlobalMakerDay yet? You can sign up on this Google Form to get more info and attend Google Hangout sessions.

The schedule is available on this buncee and there are lots of great presenters including Jackie Gerstein, Ginger Lewman, Travis Lape, and more!

I’m excited to present some ideas on incorporating Makey Makey in the classroom and discuss some recent tinkering with literacy and Makey Makey success! I’ll be talking at 8 am CST on May 17th. Since that is before school starts, I won’t have a class with me, but I’m sure some of my morning makers will be crashing the webinar!

  • SAVE THE DATE- Global Maker Day- Incorporating Makey Makey into the Classroom – May  17, 2015 8 am CST

Super Happy Maker Fun Hour- May 18th

This is looking like a seriously fun and super happy fun hour discussing one of my favorite things…. MAKING STUFF!! Ashley Kazyaka is going to interview me about some of my recent projects from the book I co-authored with Aaron Graves, The Big Book of Makerspace Projects, and we are going to talk about the importance of making in a school library setting. Plus, I’ll discusses successes and pitfalls in my own personal library programming from two different types of school settings! I’m pretty excited about sharing and I hope you’ll join us as I’m sure Ashley and I are going to have a great time!!! Plus, we can try to answer questions on air as well, so put the date in your calendar and join us.

Strategies for School Makerspace Success – May 27th

The Colorado State Library is going to have me back later in the month for a more “serious” chat with educators. The “Strategies for School Makerspace Success” Webinar  will be May 27, 2016 1:00 PM CST. I’ll be discussing the big differences between making in an affluent suburban school, and working with lower SES students in a more rural setting.

  • SAVE THE DATE- Colorado State Library -“Strategies for School Makerspace Success” Webinar – May 27, 2016 1:00 PM CST


And last but certainly not least…. I’ll be at ISTE! This post cannot contain the excitement! I’m going to tour Sparkfun, meet a ton of awesome educators face to face, and talk about getting different school populations involved in making.

Monday afternoon, Bev Ball, Diana Rendina, and I will be chatting about getting Girls in Stem and how an inclusive makerspace is more than just pink power tools. Diana and I are also working on a chapter in this for our ABC Clio book.

Then Wednesday am, I’m excited to fill in and be a part of the Knights of Make-A-Lot 2 with Diana, Nathan Stevens, and Dr. Lisa Abel-Palmieri. I’ll still be talking about inclusive makerspaces but also discussing how to reach underserved populations like minorities and students at lower socioeconomic schools.