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Vermont Libraries to Transform into Maker Spaces This Summer

June 23, 2014
For immediate release
Contact: Erica Houskeeper,, 802-498-5495

Vermont Libraries to Transform into Maker Spaces This Summer
UVM CEMS supporting development of library STEAM programs

The University of Vermont is supporting the development of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts + Math) programs for Vermont public libraries this summer.

Fourteen public libraries from Craftsbury to Charlotte to Castleton will offer summer maker workshops for K-12 students as part of the new “Vermont Makers and Libraries: Sparking a Culture of Innovation” project. The initiative is a collaborative effort between the Vermont Department of Libraries, Vermont Makers, the University of Vermont College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, Vermont Library Association and CMF Innovations.

“By teaching and sharing technical literacy, we can help empower students through valuable and fun learning experiences,” said Jennifer Karson, founder of Vermont Makers and instructor with the University of Vermont FabLab at the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. “The project encourages individual creativity, collaboration and lifelong learning.”

The three-hour workshops will be held June 25 to Aug. 9 and will be taught by local educators trained by Karson. The libraries are each offering two of the five modules: Creative Creatures, Squishy Circuits, Toy Hacking, E-Origami and E-textiles. Participants will learn how to use digital and physical tools to help strengthen their deductive reasoning, logical thinking and problem-solving skills.

A $20,000 Vermont Community Foundation Innovations and Collaborations Grant and a $5,000 grant from UVM CEMS are helping to fund the program. UVM CEMS is providing space for the train-the-trainer workshops for educators as part of the Vermont Engineering Initiative, and the Vermont Department of Libraries is helping coordinate and implement the program in libraries around the state.

“The maker movement is alive and well in Vermont, and like the rest of the nation, public libraries are an important player in providing opportunities to engage in these hands-on creation programs,” said State Librarian Martha Reid of the Vermont Department of Libraries. “I love the ways that maker programs can foster intergenerational learning, introduce novices and experts alike to technology and STEM, and promote teamwork and collective problem-solving.”

Modeled after hacker spaces, a maker space is a place where young people have an opportunity to explore their own interests, learn to use tools and materials and develop creative projects. In recent years, libraries across the country have embraced the trend to create maker spaces for communities.

Librarian Susan O’Connell of the Craftsbury Public Library, who was instrumental in getting the summer program off the ground, said she first witnessed the power of maker spaces at the Champlain Valley Maker Faire two years ago.

“As a librarian and teacher, too often I see children’s scientific curiosity extinguished when science is taught as a set of facts to memorize without the thrill of exploration and discovery,” she said. “At the Champlain Valley Maker Faire, people of all ages were experimenting with trajectory with a pumpkin-chucking trebuchet, learning how to solder, and watching electricity play along a tesla coil. People were trying, sharing and exploring new ideas, and kids were incredibly excited.”

O’Connell said the idea was also inspired by the Collaborative Summer Library Program, which creates programs and activities designed to encourage children to learn and read during the summer. This summer’s theme is science.

Communities participating in the initiative include Bennington, Barre, Charlotte, Craftsbury, Castleton, Fairfax, Groton, Jericho, Poultney, Quechee, Richford, Warren, Westford and Williston.

“Our goal is to make it possible for children who might not have access to this kind of programming in rural areas to engage in fun, hands-on activities and discover how science works in everyday life,” O’Connell said. “While all of the participants might not become scientists, they’ll be better prepared to thrive in our technological world.”

For more information and a list of participating libraries, visit

Two images are available for download (courtesy of Vermont Engineering Initiative), one of educators training for the Toy Hacking STEAM program and an image of a toyToy Hacking is one of the STEAM and Maker programs offered this summer in Vermont public libraries. Download the images here:



86 South Williams Street
Burlington, VT 05401-3404
Phone (802) 656-2005 • Fax (802) 656-3203

Call For Makers

Vermont_CMFChamplain Mini Maker Faire 2014

Will be held October 4 & 5 at Shelburne Farms Coach Barn.  Let’s hope for the same weather as last year!

Call for Makers

The 2014 Call for Makers is now open through August 10. To be an exhibitor, workshop host, or “makertainer” at this year’s Champlain Maker Faire click here.

Eco Logic All, A Vermont Makers meetup

PastedGraphic-2Eco Logic All
Vermont Makers meetup

7-8:30 pm, Thursday, June 19th

Generator, 250 Main St., Burlington, VT

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Three Speakers On: economics, art & making

* Val Esposito describing our current economics & Ecological Economics, a systems thinking based mode of economics that calculates the complexities & realities of our planet. She will also explore how Vermont is measuring itself with the Genuine Progress Indicator & other visionary work.

* Rebecca Schwarz describing large & small scale art that works ecologically & technologically. Showing art in the form of research & large scale bioremediation to art that tests alternative economies. Beauty beyond the visual & into making meaning.

* Ken Howell describing the maker ethos as an antidote to runaway consumerism. Ken will explore the potential of maker culture & the tools of additive & on-demand manufacturing to mitigate ecological pressures.

Design & Imagine: future, Vermont, art, tech

After we hear from the speakers we will break into facilitated small group design sessions. Solving challenges in playful, serious, & / or quirky ways. Each group briefly reporting back to the larger group on their thoughts & concepts.

Mix & Explore:

Come early & stay after (5:30-7, 8:30-9) for conversation & exploration in Generator, Burlington’s new maker space.


Generator, Sustain Champlain & Donella Meadows Institute


Call for Makers: SolarFest Mini Maker Faire

Attention Makers!
It’s time to get ready for the SolarFest Mini Maker Faire® Saturday, July 19, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Sunday, July 20, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., during the 20th annual SolarFest in Tinmouth, Vermont.  Dozens of makers will exhibit to thousands of visitors at this unique New England Maker extravaganza!
This is the second year for the SolarFest Mini Maker Faire® and we need you and your creative, innovative projects to be a part of this exciting event!

SolarFest 20!
SolarFest, Inspiring sustainability for 20 years. SolarFest is the Northeast’s longest running solar powered music festival and sustainability conference.
In the beginning, the idea was simply to demonstrate the power of the sun by harnessing its energy to deliver a first class music festival. Over time we have grown to include programming for all ages, including hands on and in-depth educational opportunities, music, theater, and art.
SolarFest empowers and inspires people to make positive change in their own lives, and in their communities. Our mission is to connect people, the arts, ideas and technology, fostering partnerships for a vibrant present and a sustainable future.
Join us for a day or the entire weekend – come and camp, or stay in a B&B! Forget-Me-Not Farm in Tinmouth, Vermont - July 18-20, 2014.

National Day of Civic Hacking – Vermont

Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 1
Generator (Memorial Auditorium Annex)
250 Main Street
Burlington Vermont 05401

Join thousands of participants from around the world for National Day of Civic Hacking on Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 1 at Generator in Burlington, Vermont. Organized by Code for BTV, the Burlington event will bring together software developers, technology integrators, designers, makers and civic hackers to improve our communities through technology. You don’t need to be an expert to participate; you just have to care about your neighborhood and community.

Code for BTV Birthday Celebration

National Day of Civic Hacking marks the first year of Code for BTV, and we’ll be celebrating on the Burlington waterfront starting after the first day of hacking on Saturday, May 31. Families and friends are welcome!

Register today!