The Maker Faire is coming to New Hampshire! The first annual Dover Mini Maker Faire is scheduled for Saturday, August 24, 2013 in and around the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover. This is the first time a Maker Faire event has been held in the Granite State.
“We are over the moon about bringing Maker Faire to our state,” said Justine Roberts, Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of NH. “This event aligns perfectly with our mission to ignite children’s creative potential by challenging them to think big. What better way to bring our mission to life than with this amazing event that showcases our community’s creativity, engages children’s imaginations and inspires them to be the makers of tomorrow.”
The Dover Mini Maker Faire takes after its enormous parent event, Maker Faire, which hosts 110,000 visitors in San Mateo in May. The Dover Mini Maker Faire will be a smaller, community-focused event, but will follow the Maker Faire model of celebrating do-it-yourself creativity and tinkering.
“Make, create, craft, recycle, build, think, play and be inspired by celebrating arts, crafts, engineering, food, music, science and technology.”
Featuring both established and emerging local “makers,” the Dover Mini Maker Faire is a family-friendly celebration featuring rockets and robots, DIY science and technology, urban farming and sustainability, alternative energy, bicycles, unique hand-made crafts, music and local food, and educational workshops and installations. A Call for Makers will open on Monday, May 6.
In developing plans for the Dover Mini Maker Faire, the Children’s Museum of NH gathered a group of key advisors from New Hampshire and beyond to be part of the steering committee. Individuals and groups currently on the Dover Mini Maker Faire include: Angela Sheehan, Clint Crosbie of Port City Makerspace, Alex Nunn of Seacoast Makers, Lindsey Wright of Seacoast Robotics, Richard Cecchetti and Tara Hicks Johnson of the Sea Perch program, Mark Critz of FIRST Robotics, Tim Tabor and Taylor Poro from the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, Wayne Moulton of New Heights Adventures for Teens and Sages of RPG, artist Nathan Walker, Rob Worobey of Black Sparrow Industries, local maker John McColley, Karrah Kwasnik of Genius Switch Studio, Doug Ridley of Vital Design, Dylan Haigh and Kristy Martino of Haigh & Martino, Jim Harvey of Letgo Your Mind and Chris Evilsizer of Metis Networks.
The original Maker Faire event was held in San Mateo, CA and in 2012 celebrated its seventh annual show with some 800 makers and 110,000 people in attendance. World Maker Faire New York, the other flagship event, has grown in three years to 500+ makers and 55,000 attendees. Detroit, Kansas City, Newcastle (UK), and Tokyo are the home of “featured” Maker Faires (200+ makers), and community-driven, independently organized Mini Maker Faires are now being produced around the United States and the world. Dover Mini Maker Faire is independently organized and operated under license from Maker Media, Inc.
A new exhibit at the Children’s Museum of NH
Guest blog by Tess Feltes, Gallery 6 Coordinator
I love my job as curator of Gallery 6 and shamelessly confess that every show is my “favorite” show. But I felt compelled to write about the MOSAIC exhibit because this show touched a very special chord which, I believe, will have repercussions in my life and hopefully in the lives of some of the unbelievable people I have met.
It is well known that children in our world, now more than ever, are living in a diverse society, even in places where there was once a fairly homogeneous population. We truly live in a cultural mosaic right here in New Hampshire. This fact was driven home to me as I reached out to members of our multicultural community to participate in an exhibit called MOSAIC: Exploring our Multicultural Neighborhood.
The diversity I found has been astonishing and the outpouring of generosity, warmth and enthusiasm of people has been incredible! I feel I have made wonderful new connections … and, most importantly, friends!
Families from The Azores, Belarus, China, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco and Rwanda have shared photographs, stories, traditions, art, music and customs that interest children everywhere. The list of nationalities here in New Hampshire could go on … it was hard to limit it to the wall space that we have.
The exhibit shows how people of these cultures live, eat, dress, learn, play and engage with each other. The most heartening aspect of the project was the reinforcement that people are all amazingly similar, despite regional or cultural differences.
Immigrants arriving in the United States tend to share at least two experiences: they look forward – trying to become American – and they look back, trying to maintain some traditions from their homeland. Each individual brings his/her own unique personal, meaningful cultural background and their own way of dealing with the unending demands of life. We all need to cultivate an attitude of respect, acceptance and inclusion in order to break down the barrier of our “shyness” or reticence in approaching individuals that seem different.
I wanted to avoid a tourist approach of presenting culture through celebrations and food only. Instead, I wanted to share personal stories, achievements and comparisons in familiar and recognizable aspects of children’s lives – showing how people of diverse cultures live, eat, dress, learn, play and engage with each other. What does a school, a playground, a park or museum look like in another country? How is it the same? How is it different?
Throughout the project I kept in mind the words of Kenyan storyteller Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story that becomes the only story.”
This rings true. I began interviewing people with a preconceived idea about each country, perhaps formed by the media, whether National Geographic magazine or headlines in the news. Over and over again, my preconceived notions were wrong. The stories that were shared were far richer and diverse than I could have imagined.
For me, this project has underlined the truth that stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories can empower, humanize and help foster feelings of community, celebrating different cultures and their contributions in order to position each other as friends rather than strangers.
I hope that visitors to the Children’s Museum of NH will take the time to explore Gallery 6 to learn and appreciate the cultures presented there. I hope they will share their own stories with family and friends, make new friends and make a small difference in how we appreciate each other as we all face the challenges everyday living.
I also want to mention the fascinating artwork by Portland, Maine artist Jeannie Dunnigan. It is titled BAJ and features just the eyes of a child created using recycled print material. This seemed to encapsulate the idea that we all make up a part of the whole and reminds us that the eyes of our children are on us.
It is my hope the artwork of the MOSAIC project promotes deeper understanding of ourselves, our culture and our place in the world by exploring what brings people together rather than what keeps us apart.
The MOSAIC exhibit is on display at the Children’s Museum of NH through May 27, 2013.
One of our favorite family workshops here at the Children’s Museum of NH is making and decorating gingerbread houses. This past weekend, we welcomed 34 families – some with grandparents, cousins and friends – to this annual holiday tradition. Never does our classroom smell so sweet as when filled with the aroma of baked gingerbread. And if you want to see smiles, it is amazing what a table full of colorful decorations and baggies full of icing can do.
Although you will have to wait until 2013 to make a gingerbread house with us, here are our top five tips for creating a similar fun experience at home:
1. It doesn’t have to be as complicated as building a full-sized gingerbread house. For younger children, you can start simple with constructing small houses, or anything else their imaginations come up with using graham crackers. Another great no-bake idea – decorate ice cream sugar cones to make a forest full of trees!
2. If you are using candy decorations, expect that kids will want to eat them while they decorate. Serve a healthy snack of cut fruit or veggies with dip before you even think of taking out the candy. Even serving a small portion of a sweet treat while they are decorating, such as our choice of a simple sugar cookie and apple cider, keeps the desire to munch on candy at bay.
3. Think outside of the box when choosing decorations. Many cereals that you might already have on hand have interesting colors, textures and shapes. Waffle pretzels can make interesting windows and doors. Dried fruit, shredded coconut and snack treats you already have at home can all make great decorations without breaking the bank.
4. Icing matters, especially when building 3-D objects like houses. Regular frosting that you purchase or make does not stiffen fast enough or get hard enough to glue your creations together. Our favorite recipe that has the added benefit of drying like concrete is: 2 pounds of confectioner’s sugar, 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar and 6 egg whites. Mix all ingredients with an electric mixer for 5 – 7 minutes until stiff peaks form. Instead of buying expensive pastry bags, a plastic sandwich bag with the corner snipped works well to spread your frosting.
5. It’s all about having fun together! Will your children care about creating a symmetrical design or have the willpower to resist the urge to taste while they create? Probably not. Will it be messy? Certainly yes, but once dry the icing is easy to sweep or wipe up.
We hope you’ve been inspired by these tips and photos from our recent Gingerbread Workshop to try this project at home. Happy Holidays!
It’s time to meet another member of the Experience Guide Staff at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire!
Sarah is at CMNH the majority of the week and can usually be found hip deep in arts and crafts supplies in the Muse Studio. You may have even heard Sarah’s voice while you were shopping for a pair of jeans. Yes, you read that right! Sarah has a lot to say so let’s jump right in and find out more!
Zach: Sarah, how long have you worked at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire?
Sarah: I’ve been at the museum since October – so about 11 months!
Z: Why CMNH?
S: I’ve always loved working with kids and when I saw that CMNH was hiring I thought it would be a great opportunity to do different activities and exploration with families each day. I loved that each day would be a new and different experience! The other part of that daily surprise is the fact that I get to teach each day. Interactive teaching with the visitors is the highlight of my job.
Z: What originally brought you to New Hampshire?
S: I came to Dover because I was accepted in to the Masters of Fine Arts program at UNH in Durham. My focus is Creative Writing – specifically Poetry.
Z: Where did you complete your undergrad studies?
S: I attended Columbia University in New York City. My focus in undergrad was Creative Writing but I also spent much of my time at Columbia attending and participating in musical performances. I’ve been studying voice since I was six-years old so I definitely enjoyed working with classical music and opera at Columbia.
Z: Wow! You may likely be our only Experience Guide with an opera background! Tell me, what – if any – experience did you have working with families before your time here at CMNH?
S: For many, many years, I taught at a musical theater summer camp in my hometown of Allentown, New Jersey.This Way to Allentown!
Z: That sounds like a lot of fun!
S: Yes! “Musical Theater Magical Camp” was a very enjoyable place to work!
Z: Wow! With a name like that it sounds even more fun!
S: It really was a lot of fun. Each session ran for 3 weeks and was open to children from 5-12 years old. We would spend Week One getting to know each other, learning about theater, playing games and becoming comfortable with being on stage. We would cast a full musical in Week Two and then teach them choreography, design and make the costumes, and create the set. Then, after rehearsing throughout Week Three, we would put on a performance on the last day for the entire camp and all of the returning families.Curtains up on the, “Pirates: The Musical” set, circa 2009
Z: Did any of the children ever experience stage fright?
S: Oh, yes! We would often get parents who would sign their children up for our camp in an attempt to kind of bring them out of their shell. These are the children that would be quite shy at the start of camp; often they would be the younger campers. Which made it such a wonderful process that at the end of three weeks we’d be able to see these kids that had entered the process unsure of themselves and their abilities come out on stage and blow us away with their confidence!
Z: I’m currently working on a production myself this summer outside of CMNH and I’m having some trouble with a few of the actors hitting their spots and remembering their lines. Can I recruit you to come and fill them full of your trademark confidence??
S: Well, I’m pretty busy at the museum this summer but we’ll see what I can do!
Z: Sarah, switching gears a bit, I’d like to know if you or your family visited museums when you were growing up?
S: We did. We went to a ton of museums as a family. My father is a software developer and he has worked on a number of projects and exhibits for museums. He and his brothers did most of hardware and software for the Sony Wonder Museum in New York when it first opened.
Z: “New York” meaning New York City?
S: Yes! Right on Madison Avenue! I was able to explore the museum before they officially opened to the public while my father worked on different projects and exhibits.
Z: How old were you?
S: About 6 or 7.
Z: I’m jealous.
S: [Laughs.] You should be! My dad has worked with a number of museums since then and I actually got to do some voice-over work on one of his projects.
Z: I’m somehow even more jealous now. What was the voice work?
S: It was an exhibit for the Children’s Museum of Houston that was also getting installed at the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey. It was a Magic School Bus weather-based exhibit. I provided the voices for two of the children in the Magic School Bus.All Aboard the Magic School Bus!
S: He also worked for the Levi’s flagship store in Union Square in San Francisco – so for a long time, I was the voice of many of their in-store kiosks.
Z: Did you actually get to travel to San Francisco?Sarah’s voice will help you buy your next pair of jeans!
S: I did! The whole family spent the summer in San Francisco.
Z: And how old were you then?
S: I was 12 years old and it was wonderful to be there for the whole summer. We really got to know the city.
Z: I have to ask – did you visit any museums?
S: We did. We went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It . . . well . . .
S: It was actually . . . an interesting experience.
Z: I’m going to need you to tell me more than that!
S: Yes. Well. They had a number of installations that were very advanced and were . . . well, perhaps a little over my 12-year old head.
Z: I see. Well, Sarah, please tell us: What is your favorite museum in the world?
S: That’s a really tough question to answer. I very much love the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. I visited it constantly while at Columbia. But . . . I’d have to say that the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ will always hold a special place in my heart. When my father was working on the Magic School Bus exhibit, my friend and I were allowed to be at the museum before and after hours and we were given free access to all of the IMAX shows. Most importantly, we were allowed to wear V.I.P. necklaces. [Laughs.]
Z: I always knew you were a V.I.P.! Sarah, what is your favorite exhibit at CMNH and why?
S: My favorite exhibit is probably the Muse Studio. I love the way we’ve been able to mix artistic creativity with scientific exploration. You’ll see families and staff drawing, painting and collaging conjoined with learning how a prism works and how a lima bean plant grows. It’s definitely the part of the museum that, as a child, you would have had difficulty getting me to leave.
Z: Even as an adult we have a hard time getting you out of the Muse Studio!
S: This is true. [Laughs.]
Essential Information about Experience Guide Sarah
Favorite Color: Green (Most shades of green, but not Turquoise!)
Favorite Animal: Dachshund
Favorite Movie: Contact
Favorite Type of Music: Classical / Favorite Artist: Elvis Costello
In May, three of our staff attended the annual Association of Children’s Museum conference. All together, Justine Roberts, Executive Director, Paula Rais, Director of Community Engagement and Jane Bard, Education Director, presented in 5 conference sessions on topics ranging from museum business models, to how to create inclusive programming, to facilitating STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) activities with visitors. It was wonderful to be able to lead discussions about topics that matter to us, and to talk with our colleagues about how they do things. In addition, there were talks by John Seely Brown and Leila Gandini to inspire our thinking.
Among the many exciting and often provocative ideas we heard, those below have continued to resonate and are influencing our thinking:
We are a Children’s Museum for FAMILIES
At the conference, we heard from colleagues around the country that families are looking for rich experiences to have together, and adults want to be engaged with their kids not just watching them. We need to provide opportunities for adults to interact in the Museum, and find ways to support the adult role in the Museum experience.
This was great to hear. We believe that the Museum experience is at its best when the entire visitor group interacts joyfully and creates a shared memory. Research has shown the importance of adults in children’s learning, and also in the development of their interests. Consumer studies show that adults who are bored opt out of repeating experiences.
And trend analysis has shown that adults want to enjoy their children – they made the choice to have them, and they are determined to appreciate the time they have together. We have also heard from our own visitors and members that they want more family programming.
It isn’t too late
Another big conversation was around engaging children in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) related studies. Research shows that if a child isn’t interested in science by age 11, it is difficult for them to make a switch and become engaged. What can we do to ignite interest in science for young children?
We run a program called Junior Science for 4-5 year olds. As one participant’s mother said to us this past year:
Based on the success of that program, we are considering launching a second class for 5-7 year olds.
We also added lego robotics this year, and have been doing more to fuse science and art in the Thinkering Lab – where you can design and test cars and ball runs – and in the Studio where you can investigate structure, color, natural materials, light and more in artistic ways.
One area we believe the Museum can really participate in making science engaging is by showcasing its drama, and its surprisingly unexpected delightfulness. We see science in the everyday world around us and one of our goals is to help capture that and make it visible to others.
Wide Walls and High Ceilings
Shifting demographics in this country will have an impact on our current and future audiences. Studies have shown that 90% of museum-goers are Caucasian while ethnic populations in the United States continue to grow. In addition, it turns out that museum-going is passed on within families; you are more likely to visit museums if you were taken to them as a child.
Since Children’s Museums are not as common in the rest of the world as they are in the United States, we need to work additionally hard to be visible to, and accessible to immigrant and first generation audiences who may not be familiar with what we do. One way we do this is through the schools, but increasingly we are looking for opportunities to kids who come with their class to return with their families as ambassadors to the Museum.
Cultural diversity is not the only emerging demographic shift of significance for museums. The adult/senior population is growing and 60% of seniors participate in childcare of their extended families. This raises important questions about how we can target this group more and provide more amenities for them.
We don’t have the answers but we do have a lot of questions! One is what are their needs and interests? Another is how can we engage seniors more in playing with their children in the exhibits? – put adult size costumes/props w/ the green screen? Ask them to recall favorite ways to play when they were young? Promote photographing the kids playing/learning by putting more photos on our website and/or in house bulletin boards (People stop all the time to look at the staff/volunteer bulletin board in the hallway!)
Getting it Right: inclusive and accessible programming
In the areas of inclusion and accessibility we already operate on a foundation that places the child’s learning process and creativity as central. This is important for all children- those with special needs certainly, but also for typically developing children. All children have different skills, strengths and interests. Our expertise is in designing environments which are layered for learning over time, and which are scalable in complexity as visitors gain mastery.
But really being inclusive and accessible goes further than this. A theme among keynote speakers at Interactivity was how learning is about imagining and tinkering so you can figure things out – this is great to hear because this is what museums are good at!
“Arc of life learning honors child + adult” - J. Seely Brown
“Adults should be more attentive to a child’s cognitive process than the results they achieve.” – Loris Malaguzzi, founder of Reggio
CMNH does a great job with this, but how can we help parents and teachers engage more and notice the learning taking place for children in their care? can we ask questions (through signage, or experience guides) that encourage observation? Point out the kinds of milestones they might witness (esp. in Primary Place) that could go unnoticed? De-emphasize “craft projects/products” and highlight creative process and how to continue this at home?
Welcome to a new series on our blog that helps YOU – our readers & visitors – get to know our Museum Experience Guides!
Erika can be found at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire most weekdays and is always ready to greet families with a smile! You might recognize Erika even if you’ve never been to CMNH! How’s that? Well . . . maybe we should let Erika explain:
Zach: Erika, how long have you worked at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire?
Erika: Just over a year and a half.
Z: When you first came to CMNH, you were . . .
E: . . . an intern! Yes. I interned here for a short while and then . . .
Z: . . . and then you became an employee?
E: Yes! Then I became an Experience Guide at CMNH!
Z: Tell me – why CMNH?
E: I love museums. ALL museums! I live here in Dover and I love working with children and families. I found out about CMNH and I really wanted to become a part of such a wonderful place.
Z: I must mention this because I’m not sure how many in the museum field can claim this, but you don’t just work at one museum. You don’t just work at two museums. You actually work at three different museums! That must be quite a whirlwind!
E: It certainly can be. I’m constantly going from museum to museum. I work the majority of my time here at CMNH, but I also work at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye and the SEE Science Center in Manchester as well.
Z: My goodness! That’s a lot of work! Do visitors ever get confused when they see you at more than one museum?
E: That’s actually happened a few times. I’ll be at CMNH all day on a Friday and then at the SEE Science Center on a Saturday and visitor’s will look and me and then do a double take and seem confused until it dawns on them where else they’ve seen me.
Z: Now, sadly, after more than a year and a half with us at CMNH, you’ll be leaving us later this summer. You’ll be attending George Washington University.
E: Yes, I will. I’m extremely excited.
Z: This will be to obtain your Master’s Degree. What will your degree be in?
E: Museum Education.
Z: Museum Education?! I would think that you would already have plenty of museum education working for so many museums!
E: (laughing) You would think!
Z: But one can always learn more!
E: Exactly! And I certainly plan to!
Z: Erika, you grew up here in New Hampshire, correct?The Annual Pumpkin Festival in Keene, NH
E: I did, yes. I grew up in Keene, NH.
Z: Did you visit museums as a child?
E: I did. There was a small Children’s Museum in Keene that’s no longer there. We used to visit that museum A LOT. I loved it.
Z: Did you visit other museums?
E: Oh, yes. We would visit both the Museum of Science and the Boston Children’s Museum in Massachusetts. We’d also visit the Seacoast Science Center in Rye.
Z: Did you ever visit this museum when we were located in Portsmouth?The Children’s Museum of Portsmouth, 1983-2008
E: I did, but I was so little that I don’t have very clear memories of the experience.
Z: That’s ok. We won’t hold it against you. Erika – tell us – what’s your favorite museum outside of the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire?
E: My favorite museum is actually an aquarium. I consider aquariums a type of museum . . .
Z: (faux-sternly) Hmmmm . . . we’ll allow it. Proceed.
E: The aquarium is L’Oceanografic in Valencia, Spain. It acts as a science museum as well, so you can definitely allow it. (laughs)
Z: So why were you so taken with L’Oceanografic?
E: For several reasons. Apart from the exhibits, one thing I was immediately taken with was the entire set-up of L’Oceanografic. It’s the biggest aquarium in all of Europe and it’s made up of about a dozen zones with each one devoted to a different body or water or type of aquatic ecosystem. One building might showcase the Mediterranean Sea while another building is devoted to the Arctic. There are also underwater walking tunnels and sections of the facility that contained small bubbles that the visitor could stick their head into and suddenly be surrounded by fish on all sides. You felt like you were in the water with the fish. It’s an amazing sensation.L’Oceanografic Underwater Tunnel
Z: Wow! I really want to visit L’Oceanografic now.
E: And I haven’t even told you about the glow-in-the-dark octopuses yet!
Z: Oh, man. Something tells me CMNH doesn’t have room for glow-in-the-dark octopuses. Erika, could you share with us what your favorite CMNH exhibit is? And why?
E: My favorite exhibit, no question, is Dino Detective. I love – LOVE – anything to do with dinosaurs! I also love that exhibit because it’s one of the easiest exhibits to get down to our young visitor’s level and interact and explore with them while they learn about and dig for dinosaurs. I also enjoy teaching visitors about fossils and evolution.
Z: Well, Erika, we hope that you’ll still come back in the future and visit CMNH after you’ve moved to Washington D.C. and check in with the visitors and staff!
E: Of course! I’ll always love CMNH!Essential Information about Experience Guide Erika Favorite Color: Blue Favorite Animal: (Tie) Three-Toed Sloth / Hedgehog Favorite Movie: Cinderella Favorite Type of Music: A cappella