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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Maker’s Day Showcases STEM and DIY-based Learning


Written by Jennifer Post

On March 21, the Cape May County Library held an all-day event called Maker’s Day. Locations all throughout New Jersey, including Atlantic County and Burlington County, have committed to be a part of Maker’s Day.

The goal of Maker’s Day, according to their website, is to enhance community engagement and develop connections among New Jersey residents by collaborating with multi-type libraries, museums, small businesses and others to promote and explore opportunities for entrepreneurship, innovation and hands-on learning experiences. Some of the objectives include celebrating the culture of making in New Jersey, promoting the role of N.J. libraries in supporting makers and maker culture throughout the state, and fostering collaboration between makers and makerspaces across New Jersey.

The programs and demonstrations will provide STEM and DIY-based learning. STEM is any job that requires specialized knowledge in science, technology, engineering or math.

The term “maker” refers to people who create and innovate with their hands through workshopping. They produce things such as robots, computer programs, furniture, etc. Learning from these makers can be a great way for others to learn and can motivate someone else into becoming a maker and creating things on their own. DIY has been popular since the creation of Pinterest and people are eager to learn how to make crafts for themselves. The maker movement is a more contemporary take on that because it deals more with technology and electronic based DIY projects. Robotics and 3D printing are included in maker culture, but so are metalworking and woodworking.

There were events being held for all ages. There were 3D design challenges, an aviation station, Minecraft, quilting demonstrations, and a make your own light bulb station. The 3D design station allowed eager learners to design their own cereal box. They were given an example cereal box and instructions on how to build their own.

At the aviation station, anyone interested could learn how to fly a drone, and then look on a computer screen to see what was captured. Computers were all set up with Minecraft for computer gamers, and sewing machines were set up for a demonstration on quilting. While there are instructions for these demonstrations, and the hands-on part of the day, learners were encouraged to think outside the box and use their creativity to create something amazing.

The program leaders were watching over the people who attempted these activities, to make sure that everything was being done safely. Once the projects were complete, participants got to take their creations home with them.

Aside from the interactive aspect of the day, there were also demonstrations going on all day. Earlier in the day there was a Lego robotics demonstration, followed later by LittleBits, which are electronics kits to learn and build with. It allows people to make prototypes and they come in different kits that you can purchase to make as many as 18 modules. LittleBits is also a sponsor of New Jersey Maker’s Day.

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