Creating Design Challenge Workshop in Ann Arbor

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This morning from 10am to noon we had 7 participants from southeastern Michigan attend our inaugural workshop on Creating Design Challenges. We had a good mix of both school and public librarians as well as experience levels.

A collection of documents (rubrics, methods, and slides + a shopping list of materials we used!) is located here!

DesignChallengeGame

We started the day off with a short (or “tiny”) Design Challenge based on our Making in Michigan Libraries-created Design Thinking Game. By chance, we were creating something to help a mermaid organize — but wait, we also had to make sure to not introduce new things as our particular mermaid’s constraint was that she didn’t like new things!

MermaidLegoDesignChallenge

In small groups our participants used a material they were familiar with — Legos — to create organizational inventions for our hypothetical mermaid. As we debriefed and continued to think about the why and the how of design challenges, we also discussed best practices for implementing them and different lengths for different focuses.

BenExplainsDesignChallenges

We then introduced a second Design Challenge with a less familiar — but still inexpensive — material: Strawbees! We changed up our groups for variety’s sake and had participants consider the challenge, prototype, and finally pitch a commercial for the “something to help a fisherman relax”!

StrawbeeDesignChallenge

We had a great time pitching, even showing off a Strawbee umbrella! Look at our complete album of photos here.

StrawbeeUmbrella

If this sounds interesting (or just downright fun) check out our other events coming up this summer!

Frankenmuth Maker Idea Swap and Gathering Financial Support

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On May 8th, we had the pleasure of going to the Frankenmuth Wickson District Library to do a Maker Idea Swap. It was so great to hear about the great programs people are running in their libraries, and learn from their experiences! We accompanied the discussion with a Toy Takeapart activity, so with busy hands and active minds we got to work!

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Our notes from the event can be found here. Thanks to all of the librarians and educators who came out to participate in a fantastic discussion!  33690775884_8b38a6be73_oThen, we spend the afternoon discussing ways to gather financial support for activities or programs that our participants would like to implement in their libraries! The materials for that session can be found here.
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If you are interested in our other events this summer, you can register here!

Spring Fair @ Benzonia Public Library

On March 18th, the Benzonia Public Library hosted a spring fair with the student athlete from the local schools. The children in the community got to try their hands on crafts, face painting, and t-shirt painting. These were accompanied by fun activities like reading, Corn bag tossing, bowling and a photo booth made possible by different members of the community.

Here are a  few images from the event:

Spring Fair
Spring Fair
A good Friends t-shirt
A good Friends t-shirt
Handpainting a t-shirt
Handpainting a t-shirt
Header that reads "Getting Started with Design Thinking"

Saginaw Design Thinking Workshop

Flyer for Design Thinking Workshop in Saginaw on March 11

Kamya, Ben, and I were happy to be at the main Hoyt Library at Public Libraries of Saginaw this morning to talk about design thinking as a frame for creative thinking and hands-on making.

Here is our slide deck.

Here is the downloadable design thinking game (with word-based prompts).

Here is the downloadable design thinking game (with image-based prompts).

Need anything else? Email us at contactmichiganmakers [at] umich [dot] edu.

Thanks!

Kristin

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Cardboard Challenge @ Benzonia Public Library

The Benzonia Public Library held a cardboard challenge on Saturday, 18th February.

Benzonia Cardboard Challenge

Publicizing Cardboard Challenge

Kids and adults alike went to town on the piles of cardboard stocked up in the Mills Auditorium. This wonderful community showed us that thinking outside the box came naturally to them.

Here are some of the cardboard creations from the event:

Cardbord Giraffe
Cardbord Giraffe
A Cardboard Robot
A Cardboard Robot in the making

It was great to see so much creativity in one place. For more photos, checkout the flickr album.

Header that reads "Getting Started with Design Thinking"

Getting Started with Design Thinking (Benzonia)

Flyer for Getting Started with Design Thinking. You can view the details in a machine-readable version at https://www.eventbrite.com/edit?eid=30226120139

Hello! Kamya and I are tickled to be back in Benzonia today, hosting a half-day workshop on design thinking for librarians and educators working with teens.

You can find the slides here.

If you’d like to try your hand at our prototyped design thinking game, click here for a word-based version and here for a pictorial version.

If you’d like to join us on Saturday, March 11, for another variation of this workshop in Saginaw, click here to register for free.

Sketch from design thinking activity at Benzonia Public Library

Teacher Librarian article on Design Thinking

Many of you enjoyed using design thinking as a framing structure to help making fit more tightly into your curriculum. Thanks to the publisher, I’m able to share my latest “Makerspaces” column on design thinking from Teacher Librarian..

Full citation: Fontichiaro, Kristin. 2016. “Inventing products with design thinking: Balancing structure with open-ended thinking.” Teacher Librarian 44:2, December, 53-55.

Decorative: Photo of inside of toy electronic guitar

Toy Takeapart

{Cross-posted from MakerBridge blog}

Over the past few months, we’ve been piloting Toy Takeapart at our statewide MakerFest events and Michigan Makers after-school program. It’s pretty close to a sure-fire hit.

MM Toy Take Apart 11/22/2016

We visit our favorite end-of-the-line thrift store outlet, where we can buy electronic toys for less than a dollar and know that if we did not buy the toy, it would be dumpster-bound within the hour. (That saves us from the guilt of thinking we have grabbed a toy that a needy child otherwise could have used.)

MM Toy Take Apart 11/22/2016

We avoid any toys with a screen — I’m a little anxious about what chemicals could be released if the screen was cracked.

MM Toy Take Apart 11/22/2016

Why toys and not appliances? Toys tend to run on 6 volts or fewer of electricity. Anything that plugs in gets 120V, and that means there can be energy stored up inside that could be unsafe for kids.

MM@Mitchell 11/29/2016

If it’s a public event, we generally set out the toys with a handful of screwdrivers, googles, pliers, and this handout. Without a doubt, when we clean up at the end of the night, the take apart table looks like a tornado has hit. Even though we tell kids and families that they can keep We scoop up anything that is left over. Anything cool and electronic gets saved for future digital jewelry-making. Anything else gets added to the junk box, where it will get a second life inspiring a new invention or creation.

MM@Mitchell 11/29/2016

This year, we are working with third graders after school, and we notice that they have new discoveries and needs different from the 4th and 5th graders we’ve worked with previously. Here is some of what they are learning (and what we are learning about them!):

  1. Many third graders have never used hand tools before. They love the tiny precision screwdrivers and don’t intuitively recognize that they need to pick a right-sized screwdriver for the screw. Tinier isn’t always better — a standard No. 1 Philips screwdriver is often our go-to. (What made us realize this was that we had lost one or two of these over the summer and suddenly we were scrambling to share!)
  2. They’ve never heard “lefty loosy, righty tighty.”
  3. The simultaneous push-down-while-turning dual action of screwdrivers is tough for them to master, especially when they are tackling a new screw. We sometimes have to get them started for them. However, they tend to have high levels of perseverance for removing multiple screws. What facilitates this is that we try to put at least two kids on a toy at a time so they can take turns.
  4. They are less interested in the science of circuitry and more in the wonder of the stuff they find inside. They reacted with enormous wonder to polyfill inside stuff animated creatures.
  5. Speakers are magnetic and much more interesting to them than circuits, capacitors, or resistors.
  6. Cutting wires is more awesome than discovering what components are connected by the wires.

Taking parts home is part of the fun.

I’m tickled to see how many life skills these kids are acquiring as they go on. It’s empowering to master the art of driving (or, in this case, “undriving”) screws. And fascinating to realize we’ve now been in this making and tinkering business long enough to see the different ways kids react depending on their age and experience.

Have you hosted a takepart, wreck lab, or appliance autopsy event?

Kristin