This past weekend I headed over to Pittsburgh, PA to attend #MakerEdConvening . I am glad that @MakerEdOrg brought the conference to the East Coast (#1-4 have been in California). Pittsburgh has been doing a great deal in the #MakerEd realm, so it was a good place to have it. Nova Place and the Children’s Museum next door was a nice location and had wonderful facilities, with great food for breakfast and lunch. There are three hotels two blocks away, so it was convenient. That area of Pittsburgh also has PNC Park and at least a dozen restaurants within walking distance. Heinz Field and the Carnegie Science Center are also a short walk nearby. I like going to California, but my bank account likes driving to PA better. I hope they keep coming back to the East, maybe an every other year arrangement.
Mostly I go to conferences to meet people. I go to see my Twitter PLN face to face, and to find some new connections. I also pick up on one or two things that I have not paid attention to yet. We had an hour for breakfast and lunch to do some networking. There was a Happy Hour (two actually) at the Museum Lab. Even with those, I wish that there was more designated time to meet and talk with people. The 15 minutes between sessions is not enough to do this. But if we add a 30-60 minute “networking” block, that pushes us later into the evening. The other option would be to replace a session slot with a networking slot. Hmmm.
Speaking with Lauren from MakerEd made me want to look up their Making Spaces initiative (i did, but i don’t fit into it yet). I played with the next version of the Finch that is coming out in Spring 2020. The sessions show that are some people being successful with MakerEd and some starting. Wake County Public Schools has the 4 C’s in their Mission Statement, so that made admin more responsive to Maker initiatives. (we can talk later about having all 6 C’s). We have to keep thinking in terms of equity and access, as well as keep looking at out inherent bias towards ideas/people/things. We also need to keep creating culture. #MakerEd is more than the sum of the tools.
The MakerEd team did a great job. I enjoyed the weekend and hope to get to another Convening in the future. Hopefully Maker Education will grow so that we can have more of these meetups.
Here are some pics i took :
I had the opportunity to attend (& present) the Assistive Technology Makers Faire in Monroeville PA (outside of Pittsburgh) on September 24th and 25th.
Assistive Technology (defn : any device, software, or equipment that helps people work around their challenges) is such a great opportunity for #MakerSpace ‘s and #STEM clubs. There is a wide variety of challenges for people to live their lives. Sometimes big corporations make devices, but often those are expensive. Sometimes insurance doesn’t cover AT. Often it is something that needs to be customized. This is where the #Hacker #Maker fills a role. Many times that device that costs $$$, a maker looks at it and says “I can make that for $ and personalize it for you”
I first looked at Assistive Technology during NOMCON19 in Chattanooga this past summer. There was a toy hack session the day before (“pre-con” type events). At this toy hack, we took toys/stuffed animals that had small buttons or press points on them (those musical/speaking toys), and we wired large external buttons to them. This makes them available for those that have difficulties with fine motor skills.
Of course there were many awesome sessions about various aspects and ideas. Mine was about making a microbit coded braille cell, an idea from Leslie Edmonds. We only had enough time for people to wire 3 buttons and a speaker and code it to play music. I would have liked to talk more about making boxes and maybe have people partner up and code 6 buttons. A local #MakerSpace brought in a laser cutter, vinyl cutter, and 3D printer for people to test out. But the best part was the AT Makers Cafe, run by Therese Willkomm from the University of New Hampshire. It is a hacker/makerspace for using low cost materials, such as coroplast and various adhesives and velcro, to make assistive devices. Volunteering 2 days in the space made me think : 1) every space needs some coroplast 2) all AT, PT, OT schools need to have a room full of materials just so their students can get used to them and working with them. Therese has handouts with QR codes of projects, tools and materials.
Next years event will be in Concord NH, October 24th.
Therese also has a neat pole idea for displays on the tables... a woodworking clamp with pvc on it. The display is coroplast creased so it folds to fit in a suitcase. Pictures are held on with velcro, so easily changed.