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Sunday Reflections: My Favorite MakerSpace Moments (So Far)

Our Teen MakerSpace is in full swing now at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (Ohio). We have hired and trained two MakerSpace Assistants, who it turns out are incredibly awesome. And every day we have anywhere from 10 or more teens come into the space. Word of mouth is definitely spreading as we have a couple of new people every day it seems and usually they come because their friend told them they could make buttons. Our button makers have a tremendous draw. They come for the buttons, but they usually stay for more.

Today I thought I would share two of my favorite MakerSpace moments from last week.

Impromptu Chainmail

My assistant director, Mary, does chain mail jewelry. She happened to be in the space with the assistants and I when she mentioned this and the teens were intrigued. And she just happened to have a case of her supplies up in her office, so she went and grabbed it and we had an impromptu chain mail lesson. The teens were incredibly impressed and everyone walked out with a bracelet made by Mary.


It was particularly interesting because just the other day Mary made the comment that in her experience boys were not as interested in making bracelets. And yet it was boys who were most fascinated in the chain mail bracelets, which defied her expectations. In fact, we were all surprised by how willing everyone was to drop what they were doing, how fascinated they were – I think we all learned something about being willing to let go of our expectations and be open to just doing and seeing what happens.

We have also been working on trying out some photo printing on Shrinky Dink jewelry (more about this in an upcoming post). So I happened to have a couple of Shrinky Dink photo charms available. So my bracelet ended up looking like this:


Mary made the bracelet, The Mr. drew the picture, and I mixed it with an abstract background using a photo app. It’s my favorite bracelet. And, it is a reminder to all of us that not every moment has to be planned. Sometimes the greatest interactions occur when you least expect if you keep yourself open to them.

The Lego Murder Mystery

A couple of days later, one of our regulars decided she wanted to learn how to make a stop motion animation movie. I was blown away by her end product.

You’ll notice her incredible patience and attention to detail. In particular, please observe how she cut out a piece of scrapbook paper to use as a rug to wrap the dead body in. This detail is important because of what happens next.


Soon after she was done, her father walked in to pick her up. “Do you want to see my muder?”, she enthusiastically yells out to him. And then she plays the video. He watches. And then he says, with a completely straight face, “I’m so disappointed in you . . . you know you’re supposed to use vinyl sheeting.”

I died laughing. This is one of the best parent/teen interactions I have ever seen.

On Makers and Takers

Spending time with my teens in the Teen MakerSpace has me thinking a lot about access and opportunity. It came up earlier this week when I was promoting the Teen MakerSpace on the local radio station. And I reflected on it some more when I read Paul Ryan’s apology about the way he characterized the poor. You see, he has been known to say that there are makers and takers in this world, and the poor are takers. This is a popular rhetoric. But I can’t help but think about how you can’t be a maker if you don’t have anything to make with.

We’ve been watching our teens become makers; exploring things they might never have had the chance to explore. That teen that made the stop motion animation movie above – I was blown away by her final product. She has some real talent. She came up with a solid story. She paid attention to details and engaged in some creative problem solving to create the elements she needed to tell her story. She may never become a movie producer, but she practiced skills that will help her in any aspect of life.

It may not be a big program with thousands of attendees giving us stats that look good in an annual report, but these moments make it all worth it because we are watching teens succeed and celebrating their success.

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