Makers @ Amherst Media (M@AM) was invited to help kick off the "National Week of Making" on June 12th and 13th at the National Makerfaire in Washington, D.C., Christine Olson, a doctoral student of communication at UMass, Liz Pongratz, an alumna of UMass' class of 2015, and Jim Lescault, director of Amherst Media, spent Friday and Saturday at the Makerfaire discussing the evolution of M@AM with visitors from throughout the country.
The Makerfaire provided an opportunity to share our vision of a community-based maker network and the experiences M@AM has had partnering with universities and local K12 schools. This evolution of M@AM was of interest to many educators and community members who were hoping to bring “maker” activities into their classrooms or who planned to create their own community makerspaces. Visitors to our booth found M@AM's incorporation of media making particularly innovative. Additionally, for those in higher education, the open-source science course held in our space last fall provided a useful model for interdisciplinary collaborations through "making."
In addition to discussing M@AM's successes and challenges, we were able to show off some of what our community has created. Visitors loved the electronic quilt built collaboratively during drop-in, the after school program, and at Hack for Western Mass and those who were not familiar with the potential for low-cost environmental sensing with Arduino were attracted to the air-quality monitor built by Liz Pongratz.
After a successful weekend we are returning from the National Makerfaire with many new connections and ideas. We hope to attend the World Makerfaire in New York this September so be sure to check back for more information.