By Rebecca Hoskins
We are recruiting new Maker VISTAs for the 2017-2018 term, and I’m excited to write a plug for the Maker Ed VISTA position in the Ravenswood Makerspace Collaborative.
Americorps volunteers commit to serving for one year, and a VISTA’s role is primarily indirect service. This means that instead of working directly with clients, community members or students, we focus on building the capacity of the nonprofit to which we are assigned. Building capacity in our case means we do lots of administrative and project-based work to increase the number of students the makerspaces serve and to improve the quality of that service. Things like preparing donated computers for makerspace use, recruiting and coordinating makerspace volunteers, planning professional development activities and events, and writing curricula are just a few examples of the many capacity-building projects Jennifer Torres and I have worked on and are working on.
When I started in August 2016, 12 months felt like a very long time. Here I am nine months later, and it feels like no time has passed at all. My primary feeling about this is disbelief. Someone must have hidden a time machine somewhere nearby, because I can’t believe my service year is over halfway done!
It makes sense, though, because time flies when you’re having fun and when you’re busy. I’ve learned tons of new things right alongside our students, and I can honestly say that working in and around makerspaces has changed my mindset and grown my confidence in several ways. I’ve learned how to be resourceful, how to improvise and how to tinker. I’ve learned more about practical circuitry and coding than I thought I ever would. I never would have guessed that I might someday know how to draw something to 3D print, or how to make and program a robot. And most importantly, I'm less afraid of failure now than I was 9 months ago. (In a moment of fearless inspiration, I even took my newfound handiness home to change the kitchen faucet in my apartment).
I can feel how much more confident I am around technology and engineering, and it makes me happy to know that we’re giving our students the opportunity to learn to use these tools and technologies at a young age. I am hopeful that our students, particularly the girls, won’t develop the same mental blocks around technology and engineering that I had before starting here. In fact, I hope that our students develop a love of and curiosity about science, technology, engineering, art, and math. I hope they learn to welcome failure and to trust their own ability to learn and invent new things, and I hope they have a ton of fun in the process.
If you are interested or know someone who might be interested in becoming a Maker VISTA at the Ravenswood City School District or another site, please visit http://makered.org/maker-vista/get-involved/.