On the importance of organization, space design, and supporting youth growth for the best making experience possible

via Emily Lovell, member of the “Keystone Crafters” cohort on the google community:

– in general, organization can help bring some order to the otherwise chaotic nature of making
– helpful to outline what you want to accomplish, and then map out various ways of getting there
– preparation (including being armed with tools, resources, and materials) can allow us to feel confident while facilitating and also allow us to stay in the organic flow of things
– helpful to test things out in advance, including: batteries working? activity scoped appropriately for the audience? am I prepared to present my ideas in an organized and coherent fashion?
– but lastly, be prepared to stray from the plan! and know that no matter the amount of planning, unexpected things will occur :)

In terms of space design, we talked about the importance of having tools and materials accessible but without feeling too cluttered (which can make folks feel overwhelmed and unable to focus). We also talked about having stations for things like hot gluing/soldering in order to keep things from getting too crazy – while also providing settings for participants to teach one another (i.e. how to solder). 

Then we moved on to discuss supporting exploration and connection, continuing beyond the initial experience. Some notes from that:
– when introducing an activity, it can help to set realistic expectations so that everyone feels successful at the end of the experience
– if someone reaches the initial activity goals or “finishes”, give them a next-level challenge
– open yourself to establishing personal connections with others (allow and encourage them to follow up with you over e-mail or connect through a blog or web community)
– encourage participants to take their project out into the wild and share what they learned and what they made with others (friends, parents, etc.)
– tailor project direction to individual interests to encourage continued engagement
– if the interest is there, connect the project/activity with STE[A]M concepts and background knowledge
– collect resources/inspiration of your own and share them with the makers you work with (whether it’s a YouTube video, a Tumblr, or a handout with a list of follow-up resources)

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