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Make-HER at Sunnyvale Public Library

by on October 8, 2015

The maker movement brings together handicrafts and technology in one exciting phenomenon. Whether you like crafts or circuits, or a combination of the two, there’s something for you. Libraries across the world, are offering specialized maker programs to encourage interest in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, as well as the more artistic areas of making. Some libraries are also offering programs tailored to specific patron groups, like maker programs for girls. An example of this is the Make-HER program at Sunnyvale (CA) Public Library.

One of the great aspects to this program is that not only are they reaching out to young girls, but they are also inspiring the girls’ mothers, providing an opportunity for both generations to learn in a fun environment. This ten-part workshop series provided opportunities to learn about circuits, engineering, architecture, art, and more. Many of the classes had the participants considering ways to better their worlds, like the first program where attendees considered how to make human experiences better in public spaces, or the workshop where they worked on posters highlighting shelter animals up for adoption.[1] Looking at the pictures in the Make-HER blog shows a glimpse of the fun had by attendees while learning.

Leading the instruction was a group of ladies who all have myriad experiences that enabled them to teach various skills to the attendees. Looking at their bios, one of the impressive things about the instructors was that they all had different backgrounds; some of them had studied their field of expertise, while others were self-taught.[2] What a great way to showcase the wide variety of ways you can learn and be excited about a topic!

While writing this post, I was thinking quite a bit about why a program like this is important. Providing an opportunity for girls and their mothers to work and learn together is a huge benefit. However, knowing what I’ve heard about girls and women studying and working in careers in STEM fields, I decided to see what kinds of articles I might find on the topic. Several pieces came up regarding girls and the maker movement, many of which focused on using making as a way to get girls interested in STEM studies.

One article that provided some insight came from Kristin Houser for iQ by Intel. The article mainly discussed findings from a report called, MakeHers: Engaging Girls and Women in Technology Through Making, Creating, and Inventing. This report says that the maker movement “could help bridge the gender gap in STEM fields.”[3] By hosting programs for girls, Sunnyvale is contributing to closing this gap. Houser also had information from Forbes stating that girls don’t often have female mentors or role models in the STEM world.[4] By having all female instructors for the Make-HER program, Sunnyvale Public Library has provided the participating girls with women they can look up to as examples.

Not only did Sunnyvale hold all these programs, but they put much of the information on their website. Check out the activities at home (or maybe in your library, too). A listing of some of the major materials used for the various projects is also included. I know looking at the different projects definitely got ideas flowing for me!

[1] “Blog.” Make-HER. 2015. https://sunnyvalemakeher.wordpress.com/blog/ (accessed August 19, 2015).

[2] “#LadyMakers.” Make-HER. 2015. https://sunnyvalemakeher.wordpress.com/ladymakers/ (accessed August 19,      2015).

[3] Houser, Kristin. “Girls in Technology: Maker Movement is a Natural Entry Point.” iQ. January 16, 2015.

http://iq.intel.com/report-shows-maker-movement-natural-entry-girls-women-technology/ (accessed August 20, 2015).

[4] Ibid.

 


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