Renowned expert on makerspaces in school libraries, Laura Fleming, has written a great post about her experience embracing serendipity with curious students. In her class, she passed out some brain-computer-interface gadgets and let kids come up with their own applications. The results were surprising. One student is developing his own technology to help an autistic sibling communicate better.
Fleming's book comes out this month, called Best Practices for Establishing a Makerspace for Your School. It sounds a little too educator-focused for me, but it's likely a must-have for anyone involved in high-school STEM.
My favorite passage in Fleming's post is about the role of serendipity in making, and seems to get at a lightening-in-a-bottle quality that fires all good invention:
Serendipity is quickly becoming an important component in establishing a vibrant maker culture. As creative producers, students can take an experimental path to solving problems or creating things [without] an imposed curriculum or the pressure of satisfying someone else’s preconceived objectives, but instead influenced by personal goals and interests.
The Izolyatsia makerspace in Donetsk, Ukraine, has been seized by armed, masked Russian separatists from the Donetsk People's Republic, who denounced it as "decadent" and accused it of being "an American-funded anti-Russian organisation which supports fascism and develops decadent kind of arts." Izolyatsia is the first hackerspace to be occupied by an armed militia.
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writes, "The Ottawa Public Library (OPL) and the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa have collaborated to open Ottawa's first public makerspace
, entitled Imagine Space -- an American corner."
Tom writes, "We're a fledgling makerspace in London (60 members and growing), born from the notion that 'London Hackspace is fantastic but it's a pain to get to from South of the River.'
We bootstrapped ourselves in a disused shop earlier this year, have grown quickly and had a second home lined up in a University space for the summer. That deal fell through at the last minute and now we've got just 1 month to find somewhere else. We've got the cash and the income, we just can't find the space!
Please help us get the word out. We plan to be London's 2nd biggest community workshop and can't face having our momentum dashed on the cliffs of London's property market."
Alex sez, "Spacegambit is a hackerspace space program that funds cool space projects around the world. We're now working with NASA on the Asteroid Grand Challenge, with the aim of getting more makers involved in detecting asteroid threats to human populations and figuring out what to do about them.
We're running our open call at the moment (closing on 20 May) and looking to fund open-source projects linked with hackerspaces/makerspaces/fablabs/etc."
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Jeremy writes, "I'm helping to build the first makerspace in Portland (Maine), The Open Bench Project.
We launched an Indiegogo campaign on April 3rd and have raised about a quarter of our goal so far (not bad for a little town in Maine?)."
They're seeking $27.5K to pay for the first six months' lease on a space.
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Lee writes, "Philadelphia's Hacktory has just announced its Call For Artists for its new Unknown Territory Fellowship and Artist-In-Residency."
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writes, "about a project I'm working on: FryskLab, Europe's first library-powered FabLab
. We're using a mobile lab facility to bring making and 21st century skills to primary
and secondary education, trying to find solutions for local socio-economic challenges"
Here's a roundup of some exciting Canadian library/makerspace news
: with makerspaces coming up or open in Edmonton, Hamilton, and Toronto. (Thanks, Gary!
Toronto's Metro Reference Library has unveiled its new makerspace, which sports 3D printer and scanners, Arduino and Raspberry Pi kits, and digital AV production gear. They've also lured the Toronto Mini-Maker Faire into relocating to their space. The library's makerspace will over classes and workshops on programming, hardware hacking, and repairing your electronics. It's a great all-ages/all-comers complement to Toronto's existing makerspaces, including Hacklab, Site3, and Makerkids.
The location couldn't be any better, either. I love Metro Ref. When I was 14, I dropped out of high-school without telling my parents and started taking the subway down to Yonge and Bloor every day, spending all day at the reference library, spelunking in the shelves, subject indices and (especially) the newspaper microfilm, which was amazing. And I've always loved the idea of makerspaces in libraries: as I wrote during last year's Freedom to Read week, "We need to master computers — to master the systems of information, so that we can master information itself.
That's where makers come in."
In a brief interview with Torontist, Toronto City Librarian Jane Pyper explains why the library's opened a makerspace:
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Amanda writes, "Danger!awesome is an open-access laser cutting, laser engraving, and 3D printing workshop in the heart of Cambridge, tucked right between MIT and Harvard. Our mission is to democratize access and training to rapid prototyping resources, long reserved for academic institutions and multi-million dollar R&D labs. We want to teach anyone and everyone how to make, customize, and invent.
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Andy Forest from Makerkids, a Toronto makerspace for kids, writes, "Together, Kids Learning Code, MakerKids, TIFF and the Toronto Public Library have just finished developing 7 comprehensive maker curriculum modules for libraries, schools and other organizations who want to get kids started being Makers. The Mozilla Hive Network Toronto provided funding support.
The modules are designed for a non-technical audience and contain all the information needed to teach these topics:"
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This morning dawned with two exciting announcements from the world of libraries and makerspaces: first, the Chicago Public Library has opened a popup makerlab in the main downtown branch (this is merely the latest in a series of amazing, interactive, maker-ish initiatives from the CPL system). They've got 3D printers, laser cutters and a milling machine.
The other awesome news is that the 11,000 sqft the DC Library Digital Commons opens today in the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library, with 3D printers, book-on-demand printers, and computers with 3D design software running on them.
This is a great day for libraries and makers -- as I've written, that's a match made in heaven.
(Images: Jacqui Cheng, Benjamin R. Freed)
sez, "Artist support agency, SPACE, is using Kickstarter to set up a FabLab
, bringing affordable 3D printing, laser cutting and more to artists and creatives in Hackney, London. With 'Tech City' growing next door to SPACE's East London studios, it wasn't long before they saw the potential of Kickstarter which recently launched in the UK. The campaign's up and running now, gaining momentum and should show the potential of Kickstarter to other arts organisations. Key for many pledgers are the rewards they get and SPACE's campaign is no different. £20 pledgers can get year long memberships of the FabLab with lots of artists already signing up. Top level pledgers will receive 1 of 10 individual, 3D printed sculptures by Hackney based, SPACE artist, Ryan Gander."
I wrote a guest editorial for the Raincoast Books site, in honour of Freedom to Read Week. It's called "Libraries, Hackspaces and E-waste: how libraries can be the hub of a young maker revolution," and it's about the role of libraries in the 21st century:
Every discussion of libraries in the age of austerity always includes at least one blowhard who opines, "What do we need libraries for? We've got the Internet now!"
The problem is that Mr. Blowhard has confused a library with a book depository. Now, those are useful, too, but a library isn't just (or even necessarily) a place where you go to get books for free. Public libraries have always been places where skilled information professionals assisted the general public with the eternal quest to understand the world. Historically, librarians have sat at the coalface between the entire universe of published material and patrons, choosing books with at least a colorable claim to credibility, carefully cataloging and shelving them, and then assisting patrons in understanding how to synthesize the material contained therein.
Libraries have also served as community hubs, places where the curious, the scholarly, and the intellectually excitable could gather in the company of one another, surrounded by untold information-wealth, presided over by skilled information professionals who could lend technical assistance where needed. My own life has included many protracted stints in libraries — for example, I dropped out of high-school when I was 14 took myself to Toronto's Metro Reference Library and literally walked into the shelves at random, selected the first volume that aroused my curiosity, read it until it suggested another line of interest, then chased that one up. When I found the newspaper microfilm, I was blown away, and spent a week just pulling out reels at random and reading newspapers from the decades and centuries before, making notes and chasing them up with books. We have a name for this behavior today, of course: "browsing the Web." It was clunkier before the Web went digital, but it was every bit as exciting.
Libraries, Hackspaces and E-waste: how libraries can be the hub of a young maker revolution