Wednesday, 28 August 2013 14:01
Coming back to school after my few
months at Evanston Public Library (EPL), I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what I did this summer.
Honestly, that is a really hard question to answer. Because there were so many
incredible opportunities to make that I don’t even know where to begin. I
remember my fellow Maker Corps Member (MCM), Grace, and I began the summer having a difficult time
trying to identify what Maker Corps was. We knew it involved youth, and making
things, and that was about it. We then started trying on our different “hats”
as the summer began. One day we were jewelers, the next we were artists, then
engineers or electricians. Each hour of each day was spent doing something
entirely different, which is what made the summer so difficult to explain, but
incredible at the same time.
loved people, so for me that was the best part about working with all of the
different ages of makers. It wasn’t what we were making that mattered most - yes, it was pretty darn cool that we could (as Grace, Renee, and I described to
a lady in the dollar store) transform electric tooth brushes into robots - but
seeing all of the makers explore and develop an understanding was the best
part. We had a few Squishy Circuits programs throughout the summer, and I saw
this as a poignant example of the explorative process we tried to encourage in
our Maker Corps programs this summer. Grace and I led some simplified demos,
and we let all of the Makers figure out what worked best for them. We ended up
having a few Makers that joined the ranks - I’d say as new MCMs - coming to program
after program and joining the journey of making all different kinds of things.
Some started with our Scratch! and Makey Makey programs, then showed up later to the Backyard Ladder Game. We had young Makers that went from Squishy
Circuits on Wednesday to Art Bots on Thursday! It was great to see their
enthusiasm, even though it was summer, to push themselves and make something
they may not have expected. I am so
thankful to all of our young Makers that came out this summer and explored with
us! I am sure this isn’t the end of their incredible making.
I loved the individual challenges that Maker Corps presented for
both Grace and I. It was great to meet another Maker and work so closely with her during
the summer. One thing we both were nervous about initially was the
technological making that we hoped to offer to the Makers at EPL. I always
thought technology was something that only a select few could understand and
dabble in. After Maker Corps, I am much less afraid to strip wires and try
to hook them up in different ways or test out some more complicated science
processes. One of my favorite parts of
the summer as an MCM was being able to design projects or programs. We figured
out processes, what we wanted the end result to be, then a bunch of young
Makers joined us and we made even more new discoveries. Grace and I used a lot
of the other MCMs nationwide, as well, as inspiration for other programs we
added later on, (like conductive paint!). It was a lot of fun to design new projects
and run tests for each of the programs we led. We had a ridiculous amount
of fun with each other, with what we were making, and with pushing the
envelope. Maker Corps is a huge broadening of anyone’s horizons, be it the host
site's, the MCM's, or the young maker's involved. No matter what, Maker Corps
pushes your comfort zone and opens you up to the endless possibilities of
Thanks so much for all of the great making!
Wednesday, 28 August 2013 00:00
As a story, Dracula is a fabulous one. There's
everything you want from a classic, gothic horror novel, and fans of that style
will not be disappointed. The characters are well developed, (although some of
them seem to begin to deviate a bit halfway through). What can go wrong will go wrong, and
that's exciting. So why isn't this book getting a four or a five, Heather?
Because, well, the style. It's an epistolary novel, so it's completely made up
of journal entries, letters, and telegrams. So while the story moves quickly,
it feels really slow because of all the breaks. The switching of perspectives
works very well in the beginning, but can get confusing at times, as dates
backtrack or jump forward, and it can really break the flow. Sometimes entries
don't even feel like they advance the story. If you can get over the drag that
the epistolary style can create, Dracula is a great story quite unlike what
most people think it is, and it's a good read to have in your back pocket for
when other authors reference it.
Monday, 26 August 2013 00:00
When I think of Ruby Redfort, I think of words like 'classy' and
'timeless.' Ruby is a great detective. She’s
smart, an excellent code-breaker, witty and has great taste in t-shirts. When word gets out about her amazing code-breaking
skills, her housekeeper, Hitch, recruits her for a top secret crime fighting
organization called Spectrum. Turns out,
Hitch isn’t just a housekeeper, he’s a secret agent too and now Ruby’s part of
the team as long as she can “keep it zipped.” But, it’s hard to keep it zipped
from her partner in crime Clancy and it’s hard just to focus on the code
breaking when Ruby keeps noticing other suspicious things. Soon Ruby’s snooping, sneaking in, ”borrowing”
evidence and more as she tries to get to the bottom of the mystery. But will all her top-secret sleuthing get her caught, not just by Spectrum, but the nasty criminal
masterminds they’re trying to take down?
(Renee, the Loft)
Thursday, 22 August 2013 17:51
Imagine it: Every Wednesday afternoon, every kid in your 7th grade class leaves school for religious instruction and you - and only you - are left behind for hours of no-escape-hatch, pure-misery, one-on-one time with your cold-fish homeroom teacher. So besets Holling Hoodhood (really his name), the hero of Gary D. Schmidt's hilarious, sweet book, The Wednesday Wars.
Only it's much worse than it sounds. Mrs. Baker, who surely, positively, absolutely must hate Holling, assigns him to read and study Shakespeare's plays and then have something brilliant to say about them during their isolation-booth time together. And when she's not inflicting corporal punishment via the Bard, he has to perform manual labor: beating the classroom's chalkboard erasers like some dust-averse maniac on the school's outer walls, carrying boxes of cream-puff pastries to and from the cafeteria, and - oh God, it's not my fault - chasing down the caged classroom rat who has performed a Houdini and infiltrated the school's ceiling tiles.
It would be the most wounded-subterranean-creature sort of nightmare for any 7th grader, except Mrs. Baker is not entirely who she appears to be and as Holling Hoodhood's (really his name) 7th grade year rolls on, he discovers that who she actually is makes all the difference in who he might become.
The Wednesday Wars is such a warm-hearted, tender, smart, and
funny book. It doesn't so much consist of a central conflict or big plot, but consists of a series of small, beautifully rendered (and did I mention
funny?) conflicts that add up to one Long Island 7th grader's
extraordinary year set against the backdrop of national turmoil stemming from the Vietnam War in 1968.
Holling Hoodhood (really his name!) is an authentic, original character.
His growing realization that he loves his sister (and how he acts on that love) and his brave confrontation,
albeit brief, with his father during which he challenges his dad's
conception of manhood at the end of the book, are both worth the read. But read it for more than those scenes: read it for the comedic
set-pieces involving inedible cream puffs, yellow tights, and the cameos of star New York Yankees players, and the
brilliant rendering of Mrs. Baker, who
starts out fearsome and hard, and begins to reveal her true, sensitive,
complex self and becomes a model of understated, but profound
*This book is one of many excellent reads included on the Loft's Vietnam War booklist.
(Jarrett, the Loft).
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 00:00
I loved the book Steve Jobs: Genius By Design. Before
I read this book all I knew about Steve Jobs was that he was the CEO of Apple.
When Steve was a child he was adopted. He was the
smartest kid in school so he skipped 5th grade. His middle school was really
bad. In college, Steve met Chrisann. They fell in love and got married.
But when the baby was born Steve abandoned the baby. Later he broke up with Chrisann and married someone else. Apple was doing great and had just
released the Mac. In 2001 Steve had cancer. And he wanted to handle it his own
way. After a couple of months it wasn't working and he got surgery. By this
time Apple had released the first iPhone. A couple of years later Steve had
cancer again and it spread. He left Apple and a week later he died.
Monday, 19 August 2013 00:00
Suicide has become an epidemic with teens. Depression is highly contagious. In Sloane’s city they’ve finally found a
solution, The Program. If officials think you’re showing symptoms of depression
or at risk of suicide you’re hauled off to The Program. Once you’ve made it through you get a fresh
start, except part of the cure is erasing any memories that they think might be
connected with your depression. You
might forget your siblings, your best friend or boyfriend.
Sloane’s boyfriend James promised that he would kept them
out The Program. Except after one of
their friends heads to The Program and another takes Quik Death before they
cart him off to The Program it’s more than James can take. Soon he’s carted off to The Program and
Sloane finds herself being dragged off soon after. Will the memories of their love survive? Will
they ever know or recognize each other again? Or will The Program succeed and
wipe it all away? A great dystopian read for high school students who are fans of Matched and Delirium.
(Renee, the Loft)
Saturday, 17 August 2013 00:00
"A collection of majorly fantabulous short stories all focused around the thrilling lives of geeky characters. Amazing YA authors with huge amounts of fun makes this book a MUST READ!! You are sure to find a story you love!"
Find Geektastic in the Loft.
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