It was a rare quiet afternoon in the library. Four kids of different ages busy researching their next reading adventure. The youngest about 8, restless as his older sister was helping us clean DVD’s in the back. After several attempts at being included which were thwarted by us as staff as we couldn’t come up with a project for him to work out, the light bulb went off.
“Here’s an opportunity to engage,” I thought to myself.
I walked over to the children sections where he blankly stared while flipping through the pages of never ending read in a zombie like state.
“Hey, I’ve got a project for you,” I reached out.
“What’s that?” he said with surprise.
“Stay right here, let me get it for you,” I said in response as I ran off into the back room.
Not even having un-boxed all the goodies we received from our conference in Boise learning about the maker culture, I rummaged to find something to suffice.
“Eurkea!” I thought to myself as I pulled out the box of wooden mounted circuits.
I quickly returned and to his surprise I dumped, batteries, switches, buttons, motors, lights and alligator clips in front of him.
“What’s this?” he exclaimed as his older brother caught us out of the corner of his eye with a bit of curiosity.
“It’s components to make a circuit,” I gleamed.
“What’s a circuit?” he again questioned.
Oh boy I thought to myself, this might be a bit tougher then sitting around a conference and having it made to look so easy.
“Well you’re going to find out. Play around with these parts and see if you can get a light to light, okay?” I free styled.
“Okay,” with a bit of trepidation in his voice that was almost over-shawoded by his older brother raising his voice from across the room, “I want to do it next.”
I wandered back to the circulation desk with a sly smile. I think we’ve got something here, I thought. And not before I even got in front of the computer did the little boy follow looking up at me with a puffed out lower lip and frustration on his face.
“I can’t do it! Can you help?” he desperately reached out.
“Sorry buddy, I’ve got work to do, I gave it to you to see how inventive you can be. Try starting small, try and make one light work before making everything work,” thankfully remembering this tip from our training.
“Alright,” he pouted as he went back off.
Not five minutes later he returns, although this time with older brother in tow.
“You’re circuits don’t work. I think the batteries are dead,” he said confidently.
“Let me see,” I waltzed over and took a look. After examination I quickly realized they had the batteries in the opposite manner. Without fully making the change, I said “I think everything is fine, but you might want to take a closer look at your batteries.”
With a quick flip, BINGO, light on! Joy beamed from their faces. Only to be stymied again by their facilitator.
“Great job guys! But can you now make the motor turn on with a button?” I inquired.
Back to the drawing board the youngest went. After numerous attempts to elicit my attention and help I responded with words of encouragement from the circulation desk, “I believe in you. You can do it. Think how you got the light on and start from there.”
My head buried in checking books I heard a BUZZ from across the room getting closer. Here he was full of pride walking up to the desk, pressing the button on and off as the circuit was complete.
“I did it!” he proudly displayed.
“Yes, yes you certainly did.” I nodded with encouragement.
And I was off to the races. An impromptu run at being a facilitator proved to empower me even more after learning only about theory behind the maker culture. From there it was only a matter of time before we were engaging an entire community.