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June 23, 2014
For immediate release
Contact: Erica Houskeeper,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 802-498-5495

Vermont Libraries to Transform into Maker Spaces This Summer
UVM CEMS supporting development of library STEAM programs

The University of Vermont is supporting the development of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts + Math) programs for Vermont public libraries this summer.

Fourteen public libraries from Craftsbury to Charlotte to Castleton will offer summer maker workshops for K-12 students as part of the new “Vermont Makers and Libraries: Sparking a Culture of Innovation” project. The initiative is a collaborative effort between the Vermont Department of Libraries, Vermont Makers, the University of Vermont College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, Vermont Library Association and CMF Innovations.

“By teaching and sharing technical literacy, we can help empower students through valuable and fun learning experiences,” said Jennifer Karson, founder of Vermont Makers and instructor with the University of Vermont FabLab at the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences. “The project encourages individual creativity, collaboration and lifelong learning.”

The three-hour workshops will be held June 25 to Aug. 9 and will be taught by local educators trained by Karson. The libraries are each offering two of the five modules: Creative Creatures, Squishy Circuits, Toy Hacking, E-Origami and E-textiles. Participants will learn how to use digital and physical tools to help strengthen their deductive reasoning, logical thinking and problem-solving skills.

A $20,000 Vermont Community Foundation Innovations and Collaborations Grant and a $5,000 grant from UVM CEMS are helping to fund the program. UVM CEMS is providing space for the train-the-trainer workshops for educators as part of the Vermont Engineering Initiative, and the Vermont Department of Libraries is helping coordinate and implement the program in libraries around the state.

“The maker movement is alive and well in Vermont, and like the rest of the nation, public libraries are an important player in providing opportunities to engage in these hands-on creation programs,” said State Librarian Martha Reid of the Vermont Department of Libraries. “I love the ways that maker programs can foster intergenerational learning, introduce novices and experts alike to technology and STEM, and promote teamwork and collective problem-solving.”

Modeled after hacker spaces, a maker space is a place where young people have an opportunity to explore their own interests, learn to use tools and materials and develop creative projects. In recent years, libraries across the country have embraced the trend to create maker spaces for communities.

Librarian Susan O’Connell of the Craftsbury Public Library, who was instrumental in getting the summer program off the ground, said she first witnessed the power of maker spaces at the Champlain Valley Maker Faire two years ago.

“As a librarian and teacher, too often I see children’s scientific curiosity extinguished when science is taught as a set of facts to memorize without the thrill of exploration and discovery,” she said. “At the Champlain Valley Maker Faire, people of all ages were experimenting with trajectory with a pumpkin-chucking trebuchet, learning how to solder, and watching electricity play along a tesla coil. People were trying, sharing and exploring new ideas, and kids were incredibly excited.”

O’Connell said the idea was also inspired by the Collaborative Summer Library Program, which creates programs and activities designed to encourage children to learn and read during the summer. This summer’s theme is science.

Communities participating in the initiative include Bennington, Barre, Charlotte, Craftsbury, Castleton, Fairfax, Groton, Jericho, Poultney, Quechee, Richford, Warren, Westford and Williston.

“Our goal is to make it possible for children who might not have access to this kind of programming in rural areas to engage in fun, hands-on activities and discover how science works in everyday life,” O’Connell said. “While all of the participants might not become scientists, they’ll be better prepared to thrive in our technological world.”

For more information and a list of participating libraries, visit

Two images are available for download (courtesy of Vermont Engineering Initiative), one of educators training for the Toy Hacking STEAM program and an image of a toyToy Hacking is one of the STEAM and Maker programs offered this summer in Vermont public libraries. Download the images here:

b2ap3_thumbnail_aia-ce-logo.jpgThank you to the American Institute of Architects - Vermont for the invitation to speak at the recent ACX 2014 Architecture and Construction Expo. It was a fantastic and dynamic day of discussion!

It was long overdue to bring local architects into the conversation of "making" in Vermont and the conference served as the perfect opportunity to get the conversation started. I hope to see many of you again at the Neri Oxman talk this fall at UVMFollow this link for more information about the Neri Oxman event.  

Here's what we talked about on June 6 at ACX 2014:



Posted by on in New Media Arts

On May 15, 2014 Sesamedia will present at
Do, Make and Create! Exploring Creative Ideas for the Classroom
The 15th Annual VITA-Learn and VSLA Ed Tech Conference! For and by Teachers, Librarians, Administrators and Technology Specialists.  At Champlain College, Burlington, VT. 

Sesamedia and Vermont Makers sessions include: 

Spark a Culture of Innovation: Making-it in Your Community Register and Learn More

Come and see what the kids will be making and learning this summer! A grant from the Vermont Community Foundation was awarded for children and teens in Vermont’s public libraries to support this summer’s Collaborative Summer Library Program theme, Science.

From Space Suits to High Fashion: A Hands-on Introduction to E-textiles Register and Learn More

The emerging field of e-textiles is exciting, fun, beautiful and overflowing with opportunities for innovation. E-textiles are articles of clothing, home furnishings, or architecture that include embedded computational and electronic elements (Berzowska 2005). They are also found in smart military uniforms, sportswear that monitors health indicators and portable medical devices.

Check out both of our programs!

Sponsored by: VSLA and VITA-Learn Co-Sponsored by: Vermont Agency of Education


Posted by on in New Media Arts
Happy New Year!

We have some of our best programming with Vermont FabLab and Vermont Makers coming up in 2014. Also from the studio, three new websites launching in the next month. We'll post the new sites as they go live and you can check out the Vermont Makers programs over at

Other News Bits

We have security and backup recommendations for all of our website clients. Individual notices went out last month and we are beginning to implement the new features in January. If you need to schedule your upgrade, please contact Jenn.

We are very proud of our support of Vermont Makers, Champlain Maker Faire and other art & technology initiatives in Vermont. Check out this short history of Vermont Makers, a graphic timeline of the past few years.

We will launch the distribution of the STEAM-e-ZINE email newsletter and blog this month! Explore innovation zones across art, science + engineering on the local, national and international level.  Subscribe and learn more about STEAM-e-ZINE here.

Posted by on in New Media Arts
Happy Holidays to you!

Thank you to all of our clients for making 2013 a great year.


Jenn + Sesamedia
subscribe to steam-e-zine
STEAM-e-ZINE is an online publication that explores innovation zones across art, science and technology. Subscribers also receive Vermont Makers updates.