5 Tools to Make Any Library Maker Space Awesome!

5 Tools to make any library maker space

Libraries were always seen as a warehouse for information, filled with books, magazines, and videos. Recently however libraries across the country have started to incorporate maker spaces and provide maker classes for their patrons. Some say that this is part of the library’s natural evolution. Does it make sense for libraries to start offering maker classes? As someone who frequents the library, I believe so!

I used to visit the library with the sole purpose of using it as a maker space. During middle school, I would head to the library with a few of my classmates to create physical projects like environment dioramas or the skeletal structure of the human hand. As inner city kids, the library was a great space to work on these maker type of school project since we didn’t have much room to do it at home. The library not only provided the necessary space, but also access to information that would help us school kids create a rain forest diorama or a skeletal human hand.

So to me it makes perfect sense for libraries to incorporate make spaces. Libraries are not only a place to find information, it is also a place to learn with your peers and even through classes. Currently, they already host classes for learning English, creating a resume, or how to use a computer. Why not have some classes where kids can learn to create projects with new technology? Speaking of technology…

What tools can be used for a maker space?

Every maker space needs some cool tools and technology that students can use to create cool projects. Here are just a few gadgets that would make a great addition to any maker space arsenal:

3-D printer

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You can’t talk about maker spaces without at least mentioning 3D printers. These printers are able to take digital 3D designs and create the objects in real life. The digital designs are created through 3D modeling programs, like Tinkercad. There are also repositories of digital 3D designs that are available for anyone to use like Thingiverse. A popular 3D printer that would be worth checking out is MakerBot.

Little bits

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Little bits are little electrical circuit modules that magnetically snap together. This makes it easy to experiment with different parts without damaging any of the circuit parts. Also, each circuit part is color coded so kids will have an idea of each part’s function. Little bits are a great way to introduce to building electrical circuits to kids and challenge them to create fully functional devices. Check out their library of Little bits lessons.

Video Recording Studio

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The video studio setup pictured is from the Cincinnati Public Library. This setup allows patrons to create videos using a green screen and a video camera. Kids can learn how videos are created, the editing process, and how to use a green screen. It’s a great way for kids to be creative and learn how to use video technology and software.

Bare Conductive

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I’ve talked about Bare Conductive before and I believe it would make a great addition to any maker space. The site includes a few project ideas to help libraries get started. Its online shop comes with conductive paint and several maker kits for various projects like flash cards and glowing houses.

Raspberry Pi

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Raspberry Pi is a credit-card size computer that can be plugged into a monitor and can be used with a mouse and keyboard like a normal computer. The huge benefit of using Raspberry Pi is that it is a low-cost computer ($25) which is great for any maker space on a budget. There are also many resources online for lessons or project ideas that focus on creating devices with Raspberry Pi. Some of these projects include creating a robo butler, a spinning flower wheel, and even a fart detector.

These are just a few tools that libraries can use in their maker spaces. What maker space tools does you library have? Comment below and share with the rest of the class!

Until next time, keep learning everyone

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The S.T.E.A.M. Train Rides Again! Learning through Design and Creativity.

STEAM Creativity

Image courtesy of Terry Williams and Thomine Wilson

Once again, I share with you all a science, a technology, an engineering, an art, and a math digital learning resources in honor of S.T.E.A.M. learning! Check out the first S.T.E.A.M. Train article to learn more about STEAM learning.

Most of the resources listed below cover the “create” section of Bloom’s Taxonomy. With these edtech tools learners will practice planning (designing) and constructing, which according to Bloom’s Taxonomy promotes higher order thinking skills. They are ideal for infusing art learning concepts into the STEM subjects. 

Without further ado, here are some edtech resources to help build your creative skills:

Science

Molecules
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What this Resource Includes: Touch-Interactive Molecular Dynamics Simulation, 348 Molecules to Interact with, Molecules Book, Video Lessons
Subjects: Chemistry
Grade Level: 6-12+
Audience: Learners
Platform: iPhone & iPad
Price: $13.99
What it does well: Molecules includes 14 chapters and thousands of video lessons about the many different kinds of molecules in the universe. Using this interactive app, users touch molecules and observe how they move. You can also adjust the temperature and see how the molecules react. It balances interactivity with informative video and text very well.

Technology

Trinket
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What this Resource Includes: Text Code Editor, Block Code Editor, Online Sharing Options, Teacher Lesson Resources, Blog
Subjects: Programming, Music
Grade Level: 3-12
Audience: Learners & Teachers
Platform: Web-based
Price: Free
What it does well: Trinket allows users to write and run code on any internet browser. Students can learn about Python, HTML5, and even how to write music! There is also the option to write and run code using the coding blocks that were prominent in Scratch, great for the younger learners. Teacher resources include a few “How-to” lesson ideas that can be implemented in the classroom. The social sharing and embedding features are unique for a coding platform and can enhance learning. They can encourage students to show off their work or enable teachers to embed code snippets onto their own websites for their students to see.

Engineering

Tinkercad

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What this Resource Includes: 3-D Creation Platform, Step-by-Step Lessons
Subjects: Geometry
Grade Level: 3-12
Audience: Learners
Platform: Web-based
Price: Free
What it does well: Tinkercad lets users design and create 3-D objects online. Users can then take their creations to a 3-D printer and bring them to life! The site also provides learning materials to help users become experts in 3-D designers in no time! Tinkercad would be great to use in maker spaces with 3-D printers.

Art

Paper
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What this Resource Includes: Art Project Templates
Subjects: Art, Design
Grade Level: K-12
Audience: Learners
Platform: iPhone & iPad
Price: Free
What it does well: Paper provides its users with a blank canvas and various art tools for creating personalized designs. The app also includes several collaborative features so users can share their work and receive feedback from other artists.

Mathematics

Geoboard
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What this Resource Includes: Interactive Peg Board, Drawing Tool
Subjects: Geometry
Grade Level: K-12
Audience: Learners
Platform: Web-based, iPhone & iPad
Price: Free
What it does well: Geoboard allows learners to create geometric shapes through rubber bands and a peg board. This is a very creative way for users to learn about geometry through exploration and experimenting. The rubber bands can be manipulated on the peg board to form a line, segments, angles, and shapes. This can be a great teaching tool for explaining geometric concepts like calculating the area of a shape, symmetry, or fractions.

Do you know of any other Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, or Math edtech resources? Share it with the rest of the class by commenting below!

Until next time, keep learning everyone.

All aboard the S.T.E.A.M. Train! Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Mathematics Edtech Resources

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Image courtesy of Terry Williams and Thomine Wilson

What is STEAM?

S.T.E.A.M. stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Mathematics. It’s STEM education but with the addition of the art subject. STEAM learning can promote creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. Integrating art concepts like design into STEM subjects can encourage students create innovative projects, products, and solutions.  Although the arts may not get a lot of love in schools, a study showed that when it was integrated in a classroom students were more creative, engaged, and more effective at problem solving than a non-art integrated classroom.

The STEAM Train

In honor of the STEAM learning philosophy every month or so I will share a collection of edtech resources, one for each of the STEAM subjects. Here are a few to get you started:

Science

Bobo Explores Light
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What this Resource Includes: Science Reading Material, Interactive Content
Subjects: Physics
Grade Level: 3-6
Audience: Learners
Platform: iPad
Price: $4.99
What it does well: Bobo Explores Light is a great app to introduce young kids to a few concepts of physics. It resembles an interactive e-book with a robot as your guide. Each page cover a different scientific concept. Users can interact with gadgets, lasers and other science instruments in the app and learn by observing reactions from these interactive features. The app also provides reading material about science phenomenon including lasers, lightning, and bio-luminescence.

Technology

Code Hunt
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What this Resource Includes: Coding Games
Subjects: Programming-Java, C#
Grade Level: 6-12+
Audience: Learners
Platform: Web-based
Price: Free
What it does well: Code Hunt is a programming online game from the Research in Software Engineering group and Connections group at Microsoft Research. As of now it teaches users Java and C# coding. The game consists of many levels where players learn about arithmetic operators, conditional statements, loops, strings, search algorithms and more.

Engineering

123D Circuits
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What this Resource Includes: Breadboard, Schematic and PCB editor, Shop for Electrical Circuit Kits
Subjects: Electrical Engineering
Grade Level: 6-12+
Audience: Learners
Platform: Web-based
Price: Free
What it does well: 123D Circuits is an online circuit breadboard simulator that lets users experiment with digital circuits and share them with an online community. The site also includes a shop where users can purchase conductive pens and various circuit kits. It even includes a basic circuit kit designed for teachers to use in a classroom.

Art

Chromatik
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What this Resource Includes: Digital Music Sheets
Subjects: Music Sheet Reading
Grade Level: 3-12+
Audience: Learners
Platform: iPad
Price: Free
What it does well: Chromatik is a music learning app that includes music teaching tools like sheet music, electronic recorders, metronomes, and tuners. The app includes a music sheet library from different genres of music. Users can create their own sheet music and share it on the app. They can also record themselves playing an instrument and then share the audio with the Chromatik community or through social media.

Mathematics

Dragonbox Algebra
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What this Resource Includes: Math Games
Subjects: Algebra
Grade Level: 1-6
Audience: Learners
Platform: Android, iPad & iPhone
Price: $4.99 & $7.99
What it does well: Dragonbox teaches players algebra without any numerical values. There are two versions of the game with 12+ being more difficult than 5+. It has game mechanics that makes it addicting, similar to other mobile games like Angry Birds. Each level becomes increasingly difficult to keep challenging the player. A score of up to three stars can be earned for each level. The less moves a player made to complete the level, the higher the score. Dragonbox earns bonus points for providing teacher resources on their website. It includes manuals, worksheets, and Common Core standards alignment.

Do you know of any other Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, or Math edtech resources? Share it with the rest of the class by commenting below!

Until next time, keep learning everyone.

Tinker Tailor Edtech Resources

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Image provided by Carissa Rodgers

Do you like working with your hands? Want to learn how to build or create useful items that you can utilize in your everyday life? Are you a do-it-yourself (DIY) type of person? Then check out some of these online tools that can teach you how!

Most learning apps involve users staring at a screen and interacting with a device, be it a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or a phone. The edtech resources in today’s post encourage learners to take some time off from the screens and work on projects that will get their hands dirty and get their creative juices flowing.

The do-it-yourself projects that these resources contain have a lot of learning potential. Learners can gain and build up very useful soft skills like problem solving, experimentation, planning, and creativity. These skills can be applied to subjects such as science, engineering, math, and the arts. Teachers who implement project-based learning may find many of these online tools useful to use in the classroom. Parents can also use these tools to find activities they can do with their children that promote learning and team work.

Here are a few DIY edtech resources to get you started:

DIY
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Subjects: Art, Engineering
What this Resource has: Video Tutorials, Online Community, Badges
Grade Level: K-8
Audience: Learners
Platform: Web based
Price: Free
What it does well: This website provides a great video tutorial library for projects, and a supportive online community. One interesting feature is DIY’s badge system, which rewards it’s users when they upload the finished product of their project.

Craftsy
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Subjects: Art
What this Resource has: Online Courses
Audience: Learners
Platform: Web based
Price: Prices vary on each course
What it does well: Craftsy provides a great collection of online lessons for topics such as sewing, cooking, gardening, and more.

Bare Conductive
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Subjects: Electrical Engineering, Circuitry
What this Resource has: Electrical project ideas, Circuit tools
Audience: Learners
Platform: Web based
Price: Prices for tools vary, but project ideas are free on the website!
What it does well: Bare Conductive is an interesting website that sells a conductive electric paint and other materials needed to build circuits. It also provides great step by step project ideas that mixes arts and crafts with electrical circuits.

Makey Makey
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Subjects: Electrical Engineering
What this Resource has: Online Courses, Circuit Kits
Audience: Learners
Platform: Web based
Price: Subscription based (monthly), prices depend on project.
What it does: MaKey MaKey sells invention kits for anyone interested in creating new electrical inventions with a control pad and alligator clips. The site is based on research at MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten.

For more DIY online learning resources check out the DIY, Arts and Craft Edtech Pinterest board (which will always be updated with new resources):

Do you know any other do-it-yourself edtech resources that aren’t listed? Comment below and share with the rest of the class!