Maker Mondays is a new series offered at the Alafaya Branch that aims to give library users, specifically children ages 8-15, an opportunity to get hands-on with DIY projects. The series, which started in January, centers on an activity that gives children a chance to create, discover and learn every Monday afternoon. In each session, children can participate in hands-on activities that help them develop creative problem-solving skills. Staff at Alafaya sought to develop a creative space conducive to programming and activities inspired by the DIY movement. Currently, each event is presented by library staff.
This new series is part of the library system’s goal to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and exposure to students at a young age. Studies show exposure to these concepts is essential for higher education and access to careers of the future. Collaboration and community connections are also an important component of STEM education strategies. However, access to modern technology is not a guaranteed factor in every child’s life and the library aims to change this through a mission of inclusivity and accessibility. Maker Mondays helps to bridge the gap some children may face by offering a unique, creative space where people from diverse backgrounds can come together to create amazing things.
Staff at the branch hope to see attendance grow and hope for the community to embrace this new opportunity for kids to learn and create together. Staff member Melissa L. says, “Without a doubt, witnessing the ‘click’ of a concept as something finally makes sense [has been the most rewarding part].” While offering this series, staff have found that initially when participants are teamed-up they may be reserved, but an entirely different group dynamic emerges as they progress through the project and overcome obstacles together. They have begun to see children leave Maker Mondays sessions with such pride that they insist on donating and displaying their finished creation at the library.
In March, Maker Mondays will highlight Women’s History Month. At these events, attendees will create straw hoop-gliders while learning about simple aerodynamics and the mysterious life of Amelia Earhart. Throughout the year, plans for future projects include creating mosaics, weather-proof home building and paper circuits.