This March, BELS Library Media Specialists will be joining hundreds schools, libraries, and businesses across the state in participation of the second annual NJMakersDay – a day dedicated to learning through hands-on making activities and experiences. Last week we began our preparation for the NJMakersDay by familiarizing ourselves with many classic components of a well-stocked MakerSpace such as various circuit sets and 3D printing tools which are included in the BELS Mobile MakerKits that circulate among our schools. Once attendees got a bit more used to engaging with these new materials and doing some tinkering, they were ready for an Engineering Design Challenge. In our Design Challenge, our fictional society had survived an alien invasion. The scenario provided included a map, setting specifications, background information about the strengths and weaknesses of our alien invaders, and of course, the challenge: to build elements to help our society survive. Each team consisted of a household that had to work together taking into account the setting, climate, and the still active alien invaders. Our teams devised clever solar panels for an energy source, fences and a weaponized wrecking ball for security, a floating greenhouse for growing the food supply, and shelters connected via zipline- with decoys and camouflage to fool the enemies. After they sketched out these creations, the teams worked together to build their vision using office supplies and recyclables and then presented the finished products to the group explaining what factors they took into account, how their creation would function in real life, and how it would work with the rest of the society’s developments. Days later, participants reflected that they had never had so much fun in a workshop and are thoroughly inspired to try out this and other Maker activities with their students in the upcoming NJMakersDay.
We would like to thank Doug Baldwin, of the Piscataway Public Library and NJMakersDay Mastermind, both for his assistance in the planning of this session and in providing on-hand support throughout our training day. To learn more about NJMakersDay visit them here or contact Abigail to sign up and get further info.