Posted in Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Tween Reads

Makers… Get Tinkering!

Forgive the stretch between updates, all; I’m home this week, with my little guy, who’s on Midwinter Recess. He’s currently got a Lego stronghold of army men fighting across two rooms, so I used the break to get some writing in.

Did you know that this week is National Engineers Week? It is, and with many of us facing looming Science Fair deadlines, I’ve got a book for you. NatGeo, lifesaving publisher of all the things my own kids and library kids have needed for reports and projects, now has a book called Make This! Building, Thinking, and Tinkering Projects for the Amazing Maker in You

Make This! Building, Thinking, and Tinkering Projects for the Amazing Maker in You,
by Ella Schwartz/Photos by Matthew Rakola,
(Feb. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 9781426333248
Ages 8-12

This is a perfect book to start off a basic maker program, or a book to add to an already robust program. Most of the materials needed are already in your home: I did three projects today with my first grader! (Pencil Pusher, Silly Noisemaker, and Kazoo, if you’re curious.) The basics of tinkering are here; you can take all of these projects to different levels with questions about the process of making and considering results (we talked briefly about the scientific method as we made predictions about using pencils as wheels, for instance, to propel a pile of books across a table).

Projects are broken down into 8 areas: Simple Machines; Materials; Systes; Optics; Energy; Acoustics; Forces; and Motion. Each area has a spread explaining the concept, followed by several projects further exploring each area. There are questions to consider, fast facts, a list of materials, and a step-by-step of what to do to complete your project. Each project also has a difficulty level and maximum number of people to work on each project.

A foreword explains the nature of making, and sections on makers and makerspaces assure every kid that there is no “maker profile”: you make something, you’re a maker! There are some handy suggestions on materials to keep handy if you want making to be a regular activity in your home, library, or classroom, and there are some spreads dedicated on using the book and starting with a toy challenge. Safety is always paramount, so there’s cautionary messages about having an adult nearby to help out; really, we’re just window dressing, though: kids can easily make these great projects. Afterwords have some info on more complex, advanced making (3-d printers and robotics), and introduce readers to real-life makers: scientists, conservationists, and photographers are makers, too!

This one is yet another win for my Science Projects section and a guaranteed “program in a book” add to my STEM shelf.

Posted in Non-fiction

Add Make: Paper Inventions to your Maker Library!

paper_coverMake: Paper Inventions: Machines that Move, Drawings that Light Up, and Wearables and Structures You Can Cut, Fold, and Roll, by Kathy Ceceri (Sept. 2015, Maker Media, Inc.), $19.99, ISBN: 9781457187520

Recommended for ages 5+ (with some help!)

I love maker spaces in the library. I had a small one at my last library, and I’m psyched to set one up here in my new digs. The kids love having projects to do, and you don’t need a huge area with 3-D printers chugging along to be a maker. Duct tape, construction paper and imagination are a great start. Make Magazine has been a great resource for years, as is their Maker Camp, a virtual summer and holiday “camp” that provides cool projects and a discussion space for anyone who wants in. The Maker Media books are a huge help for anyone – parent, educator, and kid – who needs some ideas on how to stir up some creative juices.

One of the latest books in the series, Make: Paper Inventions is for anyone interested in paper crafting, paper engineering, and paper technology. Offering projects for relative newbies or whose skill level is “mostly thumbs” all the way up to creating paper-based automatons, light-up cards, even a geodesic dome!

Make: Paper Inventions, like every Maker Media book, wants to educate you as well as entertain you, so you’ll find a wealth of information on the nuts and bolts, the science and math, behind paper engineering. You’ll read about paper structures, for instance, and why folded paper can hold greater weights than a plain piece of paper. You’ll also learn why paper will tear rather than stretch if you pull it, but it will bend nicely for a pencil.

There are tons of projects in here for anyone and everyone, in any space. Kids can have a blast making their own paper – their own edible paper, even – with relative ease. Like most maker movements, the Maker Media books are big on reusing, reducing, and recycling, so projects are here for all weights of paper, from rice paper to card stock, and you can use old notebooks, newspapers, or copy paper for many of these projects.  There are comprehensive materials lists and step-by-step instructions and photos for every design, and math and science concepts that you can discuss with kids will make teachers happy, and make kids realize that yes, you will use that math outside of math class, and for cool stuff, to boot. An appendix with project templates and an index round out this resource.

I can’t wait to get the kids here at my library paper quilling – it’s one of the easier projects in here that will appeal to my library group’s need for fairly instant gratification. There’s a wealth of Pinterest resources, too, which makes me really happy, because this is likely to be a program I’ll repeat. Paper circuitry looks fantastic, and who knows? Maybe that’s a project for Valentine’s Day – once I get some practice time in.

Check out some of the photos from Make: Paper Inventions, and then add this to your reference library or your crafting library. Get those makerspaces operating!

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Posted in Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, Teen, Tween Reads

HowToons shows how makerspaces will save the world – A WhatchaReading Review!

Everyone’s talking about STEM these days – or STEAM, depending on which library or classroom you’re hanging out in. What’s STEM? It’s the new thing for education – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (with an “A” for Art, if you’re talking STEAM). It’s going beyond the three “Rs” to get kids ready for this crazy future we’re heading toward. It’s LEGO Robotics, it’s NASA mentors for kids, it’s teaching kids to code in languages like HTML, Python, and Ruby on Rails.

Beyond that, it’s starting with what’s around you. I had a duct tape crafting workshop at my library that the kids went berserk for. We made wallets, change pouches, even little mustaches on popsicle sticks. If you don’t have funky, leopard-spotted duct tape, you can still make stuff – show me one home that doesn’t have a roll of duct tape laying around, right? With that base, you can create.

And that is the idea that HowToons works with. HowToons is more than a comic, it’s a movement. It’s taking comics one step further and bringing kids into the adventure, by creating a story that shows kids how to create – using things around them – to save their own world.

HowToons [Re]Ignition - MakerSpaces will save the world!

Read the rest of my review over at WhatchaReading!