It was back to school here yesterday. The boys were nervous and excited to head back to class. We've had a great summer. It has been a whirlwind of activity as we've vacationed, visited and "workshop-ed" our way around the province. I mentioned the Eureka! summer reading program in a few previous posts here and here, but today I got to sit down and take a look at what we did.
We were thrilled to be able to take our summer workshops to an astonishing 22 libraries. We worked with 280 + kids to help them successfully create their projects and teach them something new.
Some of the areas we visited were very rural. In Chesley, I was surprised to be parking across from a horse-drawn carriage outside the library. So many of the libraries we visited were curious about the maker movement and trying hard to bring new technology to their area. As we walked down empty main streets to the local library branch, it was easy to see what a vital role the library plays in bringing new resources into small towns. These tools that are associated with the maker movement have such potential. And the library can be instrumental in providing access to them.
We were very excited when Young Maker lent us a 3D printer to take with us on our tour. Most of the people we talked to had heard of 3D printing but have not had an opportunity to see one in action. It was lots of fun to demo. Nanik, in particular, has been very curious about the technology and dove right into it. More on that soon.
One of the highlights of the summer for me was the Doodlebot workshop at the Kemptville Library. We had a full class of kids of various ages. It was a nice, bright, open space with lots of room to work. And we had a little extra time and lots of helpers. One helper for every 3 kids. That made it possible to conduct a completely open workshop - my favorite kind - with very little instruction and giving only requirements. I did show them how to attach the wires to the motor, but that's about it. I don't usually do this with the wide range of ages and distribution we had that day. But because we had so many excellent helpers, we were able to provide guidance and watch for frustration. With incredible success! The room was large enough that we were able to have a couple of tables of sumo doodles off to the side for the kids who finished first. I think it's fair to say we all had a wonderful time.
Speaking of watching for frustration, I need to tell you about my favorite new book. I opened almost every workshop this summer reading "The Most Magnificent Thing", by Ashley Spires.
Reading the book at the start of a workshop gave the kids a chance to collect and focus. I love this book because it talks directly about the frustration you can feel when making. ( I can't confirm, but this book may have actually been written about me.) Even better, it gives a plan for dealing with it. I love the language. I totally get it when the little girl's hands "feel too BIG to work, and her brain is too full of all the not-right things." And the kids get it, too. I like this book because it gives me a chance to talk to the kids before they begin making about frustration. About recognizing frustration and about plans for dealing with it - like taking a deep breath, walking around the room, seeing what other kids are doing. It is also a chance to emphasize iteration and collaboration. How making is not about being first, but working together and sharing what we know. This book is a great way to open a workshop and start a conversation about making
And of course, I can't talk about the summer without mentioning the Ottawa Mini Maker Faire. It was great to participate in our hometown event. We're already looking forward to next year. I've covered everything before, but hey, did I mention, we were on TV? Definitely a highlight for us!