Lawrence Hall of Science’s Open Make: deBUG coming up!

Fixit Clinic at Open Make deBUG

The Lawrence Hall of Science hosts an exciting public event, Open Make: deBUG, this upcoming Saturday, April 19, 2014 from 10am to 3pm. The “deBUG” theme connects to makers and activities who are inspired by insects, as well as work related to problem-solving, tinkering, and fixing!

Open Make deBug 1

Our Young Makers will also be a critical part of the event, as they prepare their projects for the upcoming Maker Faire Bay Area in San Mateo on May 17-18, 2014. Hands-on activities kick off the event in the morning and continue throughout the day. Special guests, including Dale Dougherty, the founder and CEO of Maker Media, will also be present to speak about their work and experiences.

Join us for a packed day of inspiration and making! The event is free with admission.


Maker Ed Expands Reach of AmeriCorps VISTA Partnership

New VISTA Members will impact thousands in high poverty communities throughout the United States

By Rachel Goldman Alper, Director of Strategic Alliances

americorps_vista_logoThe Maker Education Initiative (Maker Ed) will expand its AmeriCorps VISTA project from its California focus to include five underserved communities throughout the United States.  Ten new VISTA members and a VISTA leader will begin their work in July 2014. The Maker VISTA members will work year round to reduce poverty by inspiring low-income students through maker programs that engage them in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), as well as, the arts and learning as a whole.

“I am thrilled to welcome our next set of VISTAs into the Maker Ed family. By building the capacity of maker organizations in low-income communities, VISTAs increase opportunities for all youth to reach their full potential,” shares Dr. Lisa Regalla, Maker Ed’s Interim Executive Director. “The documentation collected from this partnership will contribute to effective models that can be replicated in other communities for years to come.”

In August 2013, Maker Ed developed a new partnership with AmeriCorps VISTA in response to President Obama’s announcement at the 2013 White House Science Fair. The Maker VISTA Project is developing thriving Maker Hubs within high poverty communities. The Maker AmeriCorps VISTAs will help expand Maker Ed’s capacity by creating community-school partnerships, recruiting volunteers, and assisting with fundraising efforts.

Maker Ed began this project with five locations in California in November 2013.  “The Maker Ed California VISTA members have been working hard within communities throughout California and are being accepted and recognized as ambassadors of change by these communities,” says Maker Ed VISTA Leader Jeremy Mitchell. “Although our VISTA members started just a few months ago, their efforts have already begun to materialize in the form of professional development for educators, increased volunteer presence and involvement within communities, and the community wide events such as the Fresno Mini Maker Faire.”

This work will now be expanded to include five new sites throughout the United States. The five sites for the July National Maker VISTA team are: 5e Gallery, Detroit, MI; Assemble, Pittsburgh, PA; Digital Harbor Foundation, Baltimore, MD; MIAMade, Miami, FL; and SASTEMIC, San Antonio, TX.

NON CA VISTA SITES logos.001-001

Maker Ed is currently recruiting for all 10 National VISTA members and a VISTA leader, who will be based in Maker Ed’s headquarters in Oakland, CA to support the work of the members.  For examples of the work of our current Maker VISTA members, please check out our blog. For more information and to apply, please visit our Maker VISTA page.


About AmeriCorps VISTA

AmeriCorps VISTA is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. With passion, commitment, and hard work, AmeriCorps VISTA members create or expand programs designed to bring individuals and communities out of poverty. For more information, visit




See SAM Grow: Saturdays at the Sanger SAM Academy


by Janet Miller and Victoria Cortez

SAM’s doors opened in late September and her VISTAs, Janet and Victoria, arrived on November 25, 2013. While walls were still being painted, the show went on for “OSOT,” one of the thousand or so acronyms the VISTAs are still learning but “out-of-school-time” is what SAM is all about and that means after school, Saturdays, school breaks and summers.  This public non-profit  Maker Ed VISTA Site and Community Science Workshop center spotlights kid creativity in science, technology, engineering, art, and math, (STEAM) on a daily basis.

Eva, 7. Christian, 9. Emma, 6. Jacob, 7. Iris, 10.

SAM Academy is located in Sanger, California, a small rural city outside of Fresno, CA in the San Joaquin Valley. Its population is predominantly low-income and underserved.  Unemployment is high, and average levels of attained education are much lower than the national average. A population highly dependent upon agriculture, they are hurting plenty from the California drought.

SAM Academy is working to help community members  overcome these many challenges by providing quality, innovative and personal creative opportunities.  Sanger’s youth benefit from SAM’s elaborate work and art spaces, and are encouraged by loving staff.  Our regulars walk around the shop like it’s their second home, feeling free to grab the materials they need to create whatever masterpiece they have planned. We are not used to seeing seven year olds happy to be in one space all day, but you should see Eva, and Lexy, and Roberto, and David and Adrian ,and all of their ‘colleagues’ who never tire as they move with seemingly unstructured time, from project to drawer to ah-hah, building & making with staff or even on the computer. It’s amazing how uninteresting a laptop screen becomes when you can pick up a hot glue gun or power drill and get one-on-one help building an owl box or a “wobble bot.” Huh? More new language. Even a non-science major is fascinated to see and learn why her CD racer beat another’s down the ramp, or what really made that paper airplane fly.

Art Room. Diego Rivera Reproduction on the back wall, Owl Boxes, Kid-made masks

We’re four months into our VISTA year now and Saturdays are hopping with 28 students last week plus a dozen individual guitar and keyboard lessons and a group art class.  While public school art classes were cut, SAM now has geniuses making paper mâché masks like these. It’s amazing how perfectly balanced their beauty is on a wall opposite a Diego Rivera reproduction. Look out Diego, the makers are coming!


                                            Keep up with /samacademymaker!



Photo: “A Sip of Conflict” Actual drinking fountain at the San Francisco Exploratorium; a social experiment display.

#40Forward: Maker Ed’s female-focused efforts for 2014


At Maker Ed, we believe that every child is a maker. We aim to celebrate the inclusivity of making, and this month in particular, we are highlighting our work with female makers, supported by a boost from Google for Entrepreneurs’ #40Forward campaign. Encouraging more women and girls to participate in the maker movement is part of the ongoing commitment that Maker Ed has made to increase equity in the field.

Females have been makers since the beginning of time; yet, they are still largely underrepresented as entrepreneurs, innovators, leaders, and makers.  If we want more girls to make things, they need to be exposed to more women who are making, who are innovative and entrepreneurial role models for youth. In the words of Marian Wright Edelman, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

LCCS maker

Maker Ed has targeted the recruitment of female mentors to establish young makers clubs in their communities to help girls prepare and present projects at a local signature event in their community, such as Maker Faire.  In past years, a third of youth makers presenting their projects at the Maker Faire in the Bay Area have been girls. We want to increase those numbers across the nation by partnering with other youth-serving organizations committed to gender equity.  The TechGyrls program at the YWCA in Silicon Valley is introducing more and more middle school girls (and high school girls in 2015) to the wonderful world of making; some of their girls work out of TechShop, developing skills and making projects that involve rainbow unicorns! As part of the 40 entrepreneurial communities participating in Google for Entrepreneurs’ #40Forward campaign, Maker Ed will implement new efforts to close the gap in 2014.

Oftentimes, girls make projects that solve community problems. Katia Castaneda, above, of Lighthouse Community Charter School created an electronic cane to help a visually impaired neighbor walk safely on neighborhood streets.Girls tell us they like making because showcase events at the end of a season are celebratory and focus on exhibition; they are not competitive, and a wide diversity of projects and interests are always represented.

One bright example is the Science, Art, and Math (SAM) Academy in Sanger, CA.  SAM Academy is a prime example of how communities can work together with the city government, private enterprises, and philanthropic individuals to move kids in the right direction. In fact, the city of Sanger has proclaimed April “Maker Month” by Mayor Joshua Mitchell.  SAM Academy, which also serves as a California Maker VISTA site with Maker Ed and is part of the Community Science Workshop network, fosters a grassroots community of curious and creative children and adults, where girls have no idea that they are “underrepresented” because they see each other making things as part of what is normal for everyone.

SAM maker1   SAM maker3   SAM maker2

Maker Ed is working closely SAM Academy and forty additional partners to recruit mentors for girls, all of whom will be included in the National Girls Collaborative Project directory. Just last week, the NGCP featured Women in the Maker Community and has provided ongoing support to Maker Ed to identify volunteers and match them with community resources and needs across the nation. Maker Ed also works with US2020, as part of President Obama’s Educate to Innovate initiative to recruit STEM professional mentors.

Maker Ed avidly features women and girls in all of its literature, presentations, and social media.  The images and stories we portray are as important as our actions.  We are recruiting women to take part in our flagship Maker Corps program, which includes a robust, online Spring Development Camp and subsequent hands-on summer internship opportunities to work with kids and families.  Last year, 50% of our Maker Corps members were women and our entire cohort directly represented the demographics of the US population.  This year, we are targeting more women and underrepresented minorities to ensure a high quality pool of role models and mentors for our nation’s youth.

Mariah Villareal is a wonderful role model for San Antonio youth.  She joined Maker Corps last summer and this year she is organizing a city wide OpenEd Jam that brings together activists, developers, educators, engineers, librarians, and makers from all fields. Mariah and our partners at SASTEMIC will provide a hands-on environment where participants can collaborate on innovative creations and uses of free and open education resources.

Over 90,000 kids and families interacted with Corps members like Mariah last summer.  Most importantly, 25% of our Corps members have been hired into permanent jobs at institutions across the country.  Maker Ed stands to make an incredible impact on those served as well as the future of America’s workforce.

Maker Ed continues to work closely with other organizations, including Girl Scouts of the USA, to close the gender gap through making. We are thrilled to be part of the Google for Entrepreneurs campaign and join with the 40 other organizations to move women forward. Today, women are starting companies at a rate of 1.5 times the national average, excelling in the classroom at record numbers and hold more bachelors and graduate degrees than men. Let’s remind girls that women outscore men in taking initiative and driving results so that leadership can look and feel differently in 2014 and beyond.

Many thanks to Google for Entrepreneurs for their incredible support! Let’s move #40Forward.

Who is Jeremy…

Hello Maker World, I’m Jeremy, the “middle child” of the three new staff members of the Maker Ed Family.  I am truly happy to be joining Maker Ed as the first VISTA Leader.  You may be thinking, what’s a VISTA?  Good question!  AmeriCorps VISTAs are individuals dedicated to eliminating poverty within the United States.  We help build capacity within community organizations that work in low-income neighborhoods.

1463066_10101435840611085_1208107400_nAfter 4 days, 2095 miles of driving, and a pit stop at the Grand Canyon, I arrived in Oakland, California from Memphis, Tennessee.  Which can serve as a reasonable explanation for this fashionably late blog post.  I am a native Memphian and in true Memphis style, a lover of Blues, BBQ, and the Grizz Nation!  Prior to my cross-country adventure, I served as a VISTA Member, working as a Community Relations and Volunteer Coordinator to help to build the capacity of organizations who worked with youth and families who had members of their family who were incarcerated or who had been previously incarcerated.

While in high school I participated in a program that placed emphasis on engineering and design.  We did everything from design Mouse Trap Cars to Crystalline structures.  My interest in sound led me to take classes in engineering because I thought that I wanted to be a sound engineer and design some type of new sound equipment.  However, my love for creating sound through music overshadowed my interests in engineering and I refocused my attention to music.

I never identified myself as a “maker” prior to coming to Maker Ed, yet I’ve been making for as long as I can remember.  As a musician, making music has always been part of my DNA.  I began playing drums in church as a child and it followed me throughout my life.  Somewhere over time, I also picked up piano.  While attending college at Middle TN State University where I majored in, Mass Communications with a concentration in Public relations, I also worked as a musician in the Nashville, TN area playing drums and keyboards for several independent artist and church fellowships.  I was co-musical director and a founding member of the Nashville area band Da Truth.  We were the backing band for the Atlanta based Artist, Weetu.  Check us out!

I am excited to join such an awesome organization like the Maker Education Initiative and the great work it does expanding making opportunities to youth across the nation.  I’m even more excited to have the opportunity to work with our 10 amazing California VISTA members.

Maker Corps Host Sites in Miami, FL

A hot Maker Ed coalition is coming to Miami!

Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, MIAMade at The LAB Miami, and REM Learning Center’s Play Make Share Program are proud to be teaming up with Maker Education Initiative to kickstart Maker Education in Miami-Dade County Florida.

Cardboard Constructions at Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science

Cardboard Constructions at Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science

  • As hosts of the Maker Corps Summer Program, the three sites will engage children ages 4 through 18 and their families in maker-inspired, creative, hand-on activities that will help inspire the innovators who will build the future of our community.
  • From basic introductions to the tools of making, to micro-controller programing, our programs will collaborate on activities, resources, and talent to create a stimulating and unforgettable summer of making.
  • The youth initiated projects that result from this collaboration will be featured at the second annual Miami Mini Maker Faire, being organized by MIAMade in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District this November.

If you are in Miami or will be in Miami this summer, join our team by applying to be a Miami Maker Corps Member at one of our host sites:



#40Forward: Maker Ed rethinks women in making with Google for Entrepreneurs

Google for Entrepreneurs #40Forward

Maker Ed is thrilled to announce that we are a part of the Google for Entrepreneurs #40Forward challenge. We are one of forty startup communities taking new approaches to increase the representation of women in our community by 25% in 2014.
Through its core programs, Maker Ed will be working with organizations and educators, particularly female leaders and female-focused partner organizations, to welcome and support more girls in making and entrepreneurship — as part of our efforts to train, develop, and foster making in communities for all learners.
In particular, we will be collaborating with Girl Scouts of the USA, the National Girls Collaborative Project, and the YWCA’s TechGyrls. Additionally, we aim to increase recruitment of female volunteers for all of our programs, particularly within Maker VISTA and Young Makers. We will be training leaders and educators at youth-serving organizations on how to work with girls in making, increasing the presence of female makers at all of our events and in all of our programs, and supporting research and development of new, accessible pathways to STE(A)M-related interests and careers through making.
Maker Ed is proud to be rethinking the gender gap. Many thanks to Google for Entrepreneurs for their incredible support! Let’s move #40Forward.

OUSD CARES Show How Much They CARE About Students’ Futures

By Rachel Andres, Maker AmeriCorps VISTA at THINK Together

On 30 January, the Orange Unified School District (OUSD) Centers for Afterschool Recreation, Enrichment & Safety (CARES) held its first annual OUSD CARES Science Fair. The turnout was far better than expected, with over 600 in attendance including students, families, staff, administration, and school board members. There were 70 science displays by individuals and groups of students from the 20 CARES programs throughout the district, as well as interactive tables from Discovery Science Center, Engineering for Kids, and Maker Ed.

MakerEd VISTAs show off their stuff, including a handcrafted seismograph

MakerEd VISTAs show off their stuff, including a handcrafted seismograph

The students were excited to show off their experiments and the parents were proud to see the effort their kids had put into executing the event. It was great to hear students offering feedback to one another, and I was very impressed to hear them confidently answer questions posed by parents and other adults.




20140130_180008               20140130_180103

In OUSD on average, students spend approximately 875 hours a year in the regular day classroom. A student enrolled in the OUSD CARES program, has an opportunity to gain an additional 1300 hours of out-of-school time educational and enrichment activities.

As school districts continue to transition to the Common Core State Standards with a focus on STEM, the out-of-school time sector is also focusing on strengthening students critical thinking skills, problem solving abilities, collaboration with peers, and confidence in their own skills thus promoting the concepts of “making”.  Aside from that, students were challenged to explore new concepts, develop the ability to present what they learned, and engage their families in their learning processes.

The CARES Science Fair was a great example of what is taking place all over in out-of-school time programs and other youth-serving organizations.

MindSpark Tinkering with E-Textiles


March 3, 2014

co-authored by Jailyn Volok, Program Director and Maia Stone, Executive Director, at MindSpark

image1Meet MindSpark. As an organization, we have set out to uncover the minds of engineers and mathematicians, architects and designers, scientists and tinkerers alike. Our after-school programs and camps encourage our merry band of innovators to employ technology and solutions-based thinking in the development of projects that are constrained only by their imagination. Participants learn basic skills in woodworking, e-textiles and simple machines as we blend science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum into our programs.


image2As part of the MindSpark process, we ask each of our educators to become familiar with and apply the constructivist learning theory in the classroom.  The constructivist theory of learning is a spiral form of learning in that learners, when approached with a new situation, will reflect on their prior experiences, then build their own knowledge and understanding of the world based on those experiences and perceptions. In doing so, students also learn how to learn from those experiences. This active mental process allows them to develop ideas with more complexity, innovation and creativity.


Why do we do this? We want to create a classroom environment that produces meaningful, learning experiences. We recently asked Ally, one of our educators, to jot down her down her thoughts image3and observations on the development of her teaching style and the students in our Tinkering with E-Textiles course. Here were her thoughts on her first day. “I need to figure out how to best teach them so they learn and have fun, but also cover the fundamentals so they’re able to walk away with key knowledge and projects they’re proud of.” From the perspective of constructivism, knowledge is not constructed in the traditional classroom where a learner is just a passive recipient of information from the teacher at the front of the class. While this method may allow the student to “know” the information, it doesn’t allow much room for thinking or learning.  And if a student is not motivated or engaged by the process, how much do they really learn?


However, learning truly occurs when students are actively involved in trying to make sense of something on their own. In place of activities that require a recitation of facts and methods, students must have an opportunity to create knowledge through hands on experimentation and problem solving activities.  Tinkering allows for just that. It gives students a chance to construct their own world and interact with it on their own terms. Our participants learn to build things, make things and sometimes take things apart. We arm our tinkerers with the courage to approach each project with a failure positive attitude, so they gain perseverance, confidence and new curiosity.


image4Implementing the learning theory imparts a lot of responsibility on instructors and changes their roles in the classroom. The standard of practice is no longer “I talk, you listen” but instead the teacher takes a more back seat approach, making the student the center of attention.  They act as a guide, or facilitator helping students engage in meaningful inquiry, interaction, and reflection while they work through an activity. It requires more active listening and observing on behalf of the teachers so they can learn how their students build knowledge and respond with learning plans that create experiences relevant and interesting to the students.  The classroom transforms into a more collaborative, democratic environment between the student and the teacher fostering independent and creative thinking skills.

In this recent course, Ally unexpectedly walked into a classroom full of all boys.  Here were Ally’s thoughts on modifying her lesson plan, ”keeping the energy up” as she put it, and how her students felt at the end of the tinkering course.

“I knew three months of sewing wouldn’t keep their attention and began looking at other options and fun projects. I continued to slightly modify the lesson plan I came in with to keep the energy high in the class. The boys wanted to get their hands dirty and keep making. Our projects focused on things they were interested in…origami and conductive paint… conductive thread…learning to sew… attaching LEDs and batteries…. They had creative freedom to come up with designs that interested them. I made sure to weave in their interests to grow ownership and significance in their projects. End outcome – they were excited about electronics, new technologies. They produced projects they were proud of and couldn’t wait to take home!”

We believe that using the constructivist theory of learning in the classroom helps accomplish MindSpark’s objective – to support the creative process by adding new experiences and sources of inspiration to a participant’s mind-bank and enriching individuals by stretching the boundary of their awareness and knowledge through guided self-discovery programs. If you are interested in learning more about MindSpark and what we do, please visit our website, or contact Maia Stone, Executive Director, at

Maker Ed teams up with in a Month of Making Money

Maker March Bog.006

By Rachel Goldman Alper, Director of Strategic Alliances

March 3, 2014: It may be snowing outside as I write this, but March holds the promise of the big thaw and lots of exciting springtime growth. In that spirit, Maker Ed is partnering with to promote the fundraising efforts of a selection of our Maker Corps Host Sites and Maker VISTA Hub Sites. is an easy to use storytelling platform that’s designed to empower individuals and groups to fundraise and build social awareness on a large scale.

Here at Maker Ed we make a lot of things, but this year we are hoping that March will be a Month of Making Money at our participating sites, allowing them to deepen the important work they do in the communities they serve.

Rally Maker March Header 2.28.005


The participating sites are:


Digital Harbor Foundation in Baltimore, MD is a youth-centered makerspace that wants to provide scholarships for Baltimore youth to attend MakerCamp 2014.

Keene logo

Keene Public Library in Keene, NH serves as an education, cultural, and social center where citizens of all walks of life come together to learn in our small yet thriving New Hampshire town.

Maker Guilds logo

Maker Guilds in Los Angeles, CA after school programs, guilds, and camps improve children’s innovative and critical thinking mindset skills, teach them to accept and embrace failure, and prepare them for a rapidly changing future.


The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Miami, FL is striving to introduce new making experiences that they believe will bring families together to create an open ended learning environment through hands-on projects.


Newark Museum in Newark, NJ is where art and science meet. The largest museum in the state, we are dedicated to using our collections to inspire innovative making and creative problem solving through school, out-of-school and public programs.

SAM Academy in Sanger, CA reaches out to underserved children during out-of-school time and offers children enrichment activities in science, art, and music programs otherwise not accessible at home or in school.


SASTEMIC in San Antonio, TX has a goal to reach underserved populations and provide students with access to modern technologies such as 3D printers, rapid prototyping circuit boards, and computer coding.

To introduce the Month of Making Money, is featuring Maker Ed’s partnership on their homepage today and has provided easy access to be able to donate to any of the sites by highlighting them on Maker Ed’s own special page.

The organizations that work with Maker Ed on our Maker Corps and Maker VISTA programs do tremendous work to help reach the vision of every child a maker.  We hope you will consider supporting them today!

Visit our page to help support our Maker Corps and Maker AmeriCorps VISTA Sites!