Contact: Michelle Jeffers, Michelle.Jeffers@sfpl.org
Community Partners: Exploratorium, KQED, California Academy of Sciences, Bay Area Video Coalition
For children, San Francisco Public Library actively engaged in to specific Maker themed months. November was Imaginuity, aimed at building STEM skills in children with maker-based scientific inquiry at all branch and Main libraries. Then we celebrated May with Maker May, again offering activities at every library, offering a variety of programs from making marble machines to robot bots and more. For ages 12-18, we provide mobile/pop-up makerspaces at multiple library locations. The specific classes and programs offered include: Maker Mondays, LegoRobotics, MakerBots, DIY Craft and Fashion Design, Stop-Motion Animation, Clay Animation, TeenTech SF Conference, Coding Camp, and Bay Area Youth Media Network Festival. The Main Library’s weekly Maker Monday also serves as an all-ages, intergenerational program because of its prime location, which receives much foot traffic. Youth mentors from San Francisco high school robotics clubs, youth internship participants and San Francisco youth worker (city jobs) programs assist and teach at these maker events. Their efforts support peer-to-peer learning. These programs encourage youth-led content, independent learning in skills essential for STEAM and STEM learning, creative design thinking, innovative re-use and recycle practices, peer-support, youth leadership development, and digital media creation.
Tweens and teens participating in our Maker Space activities have improved their social and communication skills by negotiating skillfully with peers in small group settings, taking on leadership roles in developing library programs, and gaining experience through teaching and mentorship opportunities with younger or less experienced peers. Their digital content creation has been featured in the media showcase, Bay Area Youth Media Network festival.
Additional positive outcomes include realizing the value of personal interest-based learning in developing both academic and professional digital skills; increased awareness of Maker resources in the greater San Francisco Bay Area community; and the value of libraries in providing free learning opportunities, recreation and entertainment for youth. For youth and families, we are engaging audiences in non-traditional library activities, leading to great engagement in and enjoyment of library programs: sfpl.org.