Makerspaces and the school library, Part 2: collaborations and connections

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Author: Annette Lamb
Date: Feb. 2016
From: Teacher Librarian(Vol. 43, Issue 3)
Publisher: E L Kurdyla Publishing LLC
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,739 words
Lexile Measure: 1100L

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From fans of robotics to eager young knitters, makerspaces are attracting a new crowd of library users.

Expand your program by collaborating with teachers and connecting to the larger learning community. Involve everyone at your school. You'll be amazed at the skills that your custodial staff, administrative assistants, and others can bring to your makerspaces.

However, keep in mind that from home economics educators to industrial technology teachers, it's easy for departments within a school to feel threatened by the maker movement. Show how the library can complement rather than compete with their programs. Use an inquiry-based approach to design and fabricate materials. Ask students to start with a problem, need, or question. Then brainstorm ideas and design a product to solve the problem or address a need.

Afterschool maker clubs have become increasingly popular. Use the learn-by-doing approach to connect your school library with local organizations, libraries, or museums.


Let's explore resources to enhance your school library makerspaces.


Many public and school libraries are sharing their maker programs on their library websites. For instance, the Madison Public Library's Library Makers <> blog highlights their maker projects. They also feature activity ideas and resources.

For lots of ideas, go to the Pinterest and Flickr sites of libraries with maker programs. For instance, Allen County (IN) Public Library's Flickr < photos/acplinfo/sets/72157642215009814/> page contains dozens of photos showing young adult maker lab projects. The Library MakerSpaces Pinterest <https://www.pinterest. com/cari_young/library-makerspaces/> board contains hundreds of pins with makerspace ideas.

INFOhio Maker Movement <http://libguides.infohio. org/makerspaces/home> provides ideas for libraries developing maker programs, including lessons, marketing materials, planning documents, and advocacy resources.


Universities often sponsor projects aimed at youth. MIT is known for its SCRATCH <> and SCRATCH JR. <http://www.> software. The LEGO Engineering <http://www.legoengineering. com> project website from Tuft's University encourages young people to get started with LEGO robotics.

Squishy Circuits <http:// SquishyCircuits/> is a popular maker project that involves youth in building circuits and exploring electronics using play dough. Founded at the University of St. Thomas, the project provides instructions, videos, and resources to get educators started. Soft Circuits < edu/~emme/guide.pdf> is a project from MIT.


From 4-H clubs to scouting groups, many organizations have excellent online resources that can be adapted to the school library maker environment. The National 4-H Website <> contains many resources to jumpstart hands-on projects in areas including science and creative arts. Each state also has its own 4-H website connected with the Cooperative Extension Office. For instance, the Utah 4-H Robotics < featured-programs/robotics> page contains resources and directions for a robotics makerspace.

Girl Scouts of America has produced a document promoting its Maker Education Initiative < wp-content/uploads/2014/09/GSUSA-Get-Making-with-Get-Moving. pdf>.


Many nonprofit groups and online communities have emerged around the makerspace movement. Seek out these communities for both ideas and support. For instance, the MadeWithCode Community <> provides ideas and resources for connecting with others who like to make code.

A number of communities have formed around government agencies such as NIH 3D Print Exchange <>.

The Thingiverse <> is also a community focused on 3D printing. Although the community addresses MakerBot applications, many types of software and hardware for 3D printing are shared.

Helping educators identify projects that meet their content-area interests and needs, Informal Science <> contains meaningful activities that students enjoy.

The Library as Incubator Project <> connects libraries and artists to support creative advocacy through such projects as makerspaces.


Foundations and nonprofits often provide free services and resources for schools. Seek out nonprofits that focus on STEM and STEAM programs. For instance, Science Buddies <> is an award-winning program featuring free science project ideas.

James Dyson Foundation <> provides teaching and learning materials focused on youth engineering. Curriculum materials, project ideas, and videos are available for free.

A nonprofit project promoting coding among women and underrepresented students of color, the Code <> website contains lots of resources and project ideas.

MakeIt@YourLibrary <> is a project funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services. It links to dozens of maker activities and projects for libraries.


Many educator websites contain resources for hands-on projects that would be appropriate for makerspace activities. Most of these websites contain lessons, interactives, and videos. In the area of the arts, try ArtsEdge <>. Search for a project topic, such as puppets or musical instruments. Or simply search for the word "make" for hundreds of ideas.

ScienceNetLinks <> provides endless tools and ideas related to science. Explore the tools section for hands-on science activities, interactives, and other resources. The interactives are particularly useful when your library has limited access to supplies to do physical, hands-on projects.

Providing math-related interactives and tools, the Illuminations < aspx?view=search&type=ac> website will help connect math with makerspaces. For instance, Dynamic Paper <> helps users create all kinds of data sheets that can be used with citizen science projects.

National Geographic Education <http://education. nationalgeographic. com/games-and-interactives> contains interactives that would work well in a makerspace. Use the Challenge: Robots <> interactive to jumpstart a makerspace activity related to robots. This is one of a number of Engineers in the Classroom (EITC) activities from National Geographic.


Museums are known for their hands-on approach to learning. Use their online resources for ideas, information, and interactives. Exploratorium <http:// / activities> is a good place to start. Tinkering Studio <> is filled with hands-on activity ideas. For instance, the Circuit Boards http://tinkering, page contains a hands-on activity that can be printed from a PDF file. The museum also offers interactive books such as Sound Uncovered: An Interactive Book for the iPad < explore/apps/sound-uncovered>. This app-based interactive book could accompany a hands-on experience with sound-related science materials.

The Museum of Modern Art provides both web-based and app-based art tools. The MOMA Art Lab <> helps youth learn how artists use line, shape, and color in artistic processes. The National Gallery of Art: Kids < kids/kids.htm> website also contains numerous tools that could be incorporated into a makerspace station.

The Children's Museum of Houston is one of a growing number of museums with makerspace programs. Kidmakers <http://www.kidmakers. org/> features projects, tools, and resources.


Many companies are known for selling quality materials for use in makerspaces. Their corporate websites often contain teaching ideas and resources to facilitate learning and creating.

For instance, duct tape craft projects are popular in library makerspaces. The Duck Tape website <https:// ducktivities> hosts "ducktivities" and the Duck Tape Club.

Many makerspaces incorporate the fiber arts, including sewing, crocheting, knitting, and weaving. McCall is known for its sewing guides and patterns. The Kwik Sew <http://kwiksew.mccall. com/educator-s-guides-pages-3509. php> section of the website contains lessons, handouts, and other resources for sewing projects. Work with your home arts department to extend the experience.

LEGO Education <> contains lots of resources and ideas for creating educational spaces that incorporate LEGO building blocks. It also provides design space such as Digital Designer <> soft ware to build virtual models of LEGO projects. Combine LEGO and Google with the BuildWithChrome <https://> project. The website provides tools for creating virtual LEGO models and sharing them online.

Seek out new companies and products that can become part of a makerspace station. For instance, Goldie Blox <> is designed to inspire young girls to explore engineering principles.

Many STEM-related makerspace project ideas can be found at corporate websites that combine product sales with information and educational materials. MakeyMakey <http://www.> is both a business and a project containing lots of maker ideas. The website contains products to purchase, along with how-to sheets, lessons, and guides. Adafruit <https://> is another example of this type of maker-oriented company. Combining open-source software with related products, the Arduino <https://www.arduino. cc/> website also includes lots of learning opportunities.

Spend some time creating a list of companies that provide supplies for your makerspace. Then search their websites for project ideas.


Whether counting migrating birds or testing water quality, youth around the world are participating in citizen science projects. These types of real-world science projects are excellent additions to a library's makerspace. Set up a station with the equipment and materials needed to participate in the project. In some cases, all that's needed is a computer.

SciStarter <> is a website that posts hundreds of citizen science projects. Journey North <>, BirdSleuth K-12 <http://>, and CIESE <http://www.kl2science. org/materials/kl2/technology/onlinecollaboration> are three well-known examples.


Most people think of arts and crafts projects or STEAM initiatives when they develop makerspaces. However, there are also applications in social studies. Local heritage maker projects might ask students to scan historical photographs and create digital collections. Oral history initiatives can also be turned into maker projects that involve recording and editing audio.

Connect with local historical societies to develop a real-world project. National projects like HistoryPin <> are collecting and sharing historical collections online.


It's useful to connect with organizations in your area that are also focused on makerspaces. For example, Makermap <> shows locations where makerspace groups are located. The Fab Labs Foundation <> website provides a map of labs focusing on digital fabrication and computation, and the Hackerspaces <https: II wiki,> website provides a map of community-operated spaces where people meet to work on projects.

The Maker Faires <> map shows activities around the world, and The Connectory <> connects programs to STEM opportunities.


Whether your school library is just getting started with building makerspaces or has an established program, there's always a need for funding. Many online sources provide services to help libraries fund makerspaces. These include: AdoptAClassroom <> Donorschoose <> GoFundMe <> IndieGoGo <> Kickstarter <> Lowe's Toolbox for Education <>


From science to sewing, the possibilities for makerspaces in the school library are endless. It doesn't take a grant or lots of money to start a makerspace program. Be realistic. Start with a single creation station by repurposing an old wooden study carrel. Combine a display of how-to books with production materials.

Next, collaborate with a teacher who is interested in expanding a project into the library. For example, work with the art teacher on an origami station that connects books about origami with supplies. Or connect with the music teacher on an instrument station. Market makerspaces as experiential learning environments. They're fun, but they're not intended to be a place to waste time or goof off during school hours. Build connections with the curriculum by matching content-area standards and information literacy learning outcomes with makerspace projects.

Then reach outside your school. Seek out a local organization such as 4-H that already has an interest in hands-on learning environments. Or work with a local business that owns a 3-D printer.

From seeking national funding sources to joining international maker communities, use online resources to expand your collaborations and connections beyond the local level for a broader impact.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A445116713