The Ontario Library Association held its annual Super Conference in January 2016. The conference includes all kinds of librarians from universities, hospitals, public libraries, and teacher librarians.
This was the first time I attended the conference in 5 years. It felt good to be back amongst my library people.
Back in the spring, I was meeting with two colleagues to discuss makerspaces in high school libraries. The call for presenters for this conference had just opened and we tossed around the idea of putting something together. Eventually Pam Jeffrey and I decided to present on our journey into makerspaces.
Makerspaces are connected to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math). This idea combines these different areas to get students using the inquiry process to make different things. Sometimes students are successful and sometimes they are not. Getting students and staff to buy into this concept has been interesting. Makerspaces are more than crafts. It includes crafts, robots, building, taking things apart, woodworking, machines, etc.
So, Pam and I with help and support from Melissa Jensen sent in a proposal for our presentation. It was accepted in June.
In the fall, I started offering maker activities in the library. It was a slow go, with me often going around the library at lunch trying to get students to buy in. I found out that I really had to promote any idea I had.
I kept saying to people that I hadn’t done much related to the Makerspace, when in fact I have done a number of small activities. For example, I finally taught myself how to use the Makey Makey Classic which was far easier than I thought. I set up two computers with Makey Makey boards at lunch. On one, students could play Tetris and the other computer students could play the piano. I watched students walk by without even looking at the computers or the the oranges on the table. I went over to the computer, turned the volume up all the way, and started playing on the piano. As soon as I started making noise, students came over to see what was going on. Suddenly I had a crowd of teenagers trying to remember songs from long ago piano lessons.
I have also offered duct tape wallets which then moved on to bags, origami, lego building, colouring for exam stress relief, and soon to try paracord bracelets, plastic cup stacking, and knitting.
For curriculum connections, a grade 9 science class attempted to build a new space gloves with the few materials that I provided. Students were then tested on how well they could pick up dominoes and set them on edge, text a message to a friend, and pick up and move popsicle sticks.
The slide presentation for our workshop at OLA SuperConference.