Who are we?

The Maker Jawn Initiative at the Free Library of Philadelphia is a team of artists, engineers, designers, and thinkers who work in libraries. We are united in our dedication to mentoring non-dominant youth in creative technology at Philadelphia neighborhood libraries. We cheerlead latent enthusiasts by providing resources, tools, and an encouraging space for interest driven projects that develop skills, build persistence, and open up new trajectories. Maker Jawn experiments with creating replicable, scalable spaces and programs that prioritize the creativity, cultural heritage, and interests of diverse communities, embedded directly within the fabric of the library.

When we write that we “teach the maker mindset,” we mean that rather than prescribing specific step-by-step instructions to complete a project, we expose youth to tools and materials, and encourage them to engage in playing and tinkering, with their peers, alone, and with Mentors (members of the Maker Jawn team). Creativity is always the priority. The goal is not only to embrace technology, crafts, fine art, and low-cost, recycled materials, but to cultivate a nimble perspective towards problem solving, and identifying cool solutions and interventions that may not be immediately obvious.

What does “Maker Jawn” mean?

The term “jawn” is a context-dependent substitute noun that originated in the Philly hip hop scene. Jawn is used in place of basically any noun, and its meaning can change depending on what you're referring to, e.g., “Let me get a piece of that jawn?“and “That Frankenstein remix jawn be tight!“

Our History

In the past, we have worked with the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Design, the Design School, and the Maker Ed Initiative to develop and run programming at various Free Library locations. We received a Red Ribbon Editor's Award and a Blue Ribbon Educator's Award at the World Maker Faire NY 2013 for our Connected Messages project.

Wind Cars

Wind Cars!

   Last month I gave each of the makers at Kensington a 6″ piece of 2×2 and presented them with the challenge of making it into a moving car that could be propelled forward by the wind from our box fan. I did not have an example made already and…

Light Artists

You may recall the fabulous Coco’s post about light portraiture and light painting from several weeks ago. I had so…


Living the Science in STEAM

This is me at a conference holding something I’m comfortable with–an Arduino Cookbook. Of course I’m usually looking at the…

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