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Resources for Makerspaces (March 2019): Programs and Projects

by Janet Ochs, Richard Powell, and Lisa Czirr

Programs and Projects

To capture a makerspace’s full potential, it is vital to hold programs that encourage users of varying levels and interests. Whether the space is within a library, school, or elsewhere, the books discussed in this section showcase projects that use a variety of materials and can fit into any setting.

The philosophy of makerspaces involves a sense of curiosity: of being unafraid to tinker in order to create something unique. Such concepts fit well into active learning pedagogy. The Big Book of Makerspace Projects, by Colleen Graves and Aaron Graves, ignites readers’ creativity by suggesting challenges to try in addition to straightforward projects and classroom tips. The book includes electrical, musical, sewing, and programming projects. Another excellent resource for project ideas is The Art of Tinkering, by Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich, coordinators of the Tinkering Studio in San Francisco. Their book opens with the tenets of the Maker mindset, such as “use familiar materials in unfamiliar ways,” or “be comfortable not knowing.” More than a how-to book, this work showcases completed projects to inspire new ideas. For readers interested in electronic projects, The Big Book of Maker Skills, edited by Chris Hackett, and Popular Science’s Big Book of Hacks, edited by Doug Cantor, are both essential guidebooks, featuring advice for working with technology, as well as projects that can be made by “hacking” or taking apart one item to create something new.

School and public libraries alike can benefit from project ideas to enliven their programming. Ellyssa Kroski’s 63 Ready-to-Use Maker Projects includes both low- and high-tech project categories. Each project includes project cost, and whether or not an actual makerspace is necessary. For most projects, it’s not! The addition of STEM-oriented learning outcomes will help integrate each project well into school curricula. While the book focuses on school and public libraries, many of the crafts are adaptable and would be suitable for all ages.

Another project resource that works especially well in Full Steam Ahead: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics in Library Programs and Collections, by Cherie Pandora and Kathy Fredrick. This book details how to plan, implement, evaluate, and secure community support for STEAM-related programs. Decisions for any makerspace should be patron-driven. The authors identify resources and professional development opportunities useful to anyone starting out. This book is also an excellent guide for those who already have a makerspace but are wondering, “What now?”

Works Cited