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:
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 code.org 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.)
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.