By Matt de Simone
Contributing writer
Cloverdale Elementary School first and second graders and their librarian, Mary Boardwine, talk about their experience at the “Mini-Maker Faire.”
Photo by Matt de Simone

This past Thursday at the Botetourt County School Board meeting, Mary Boardwine, a librarian at Cloverdale Elementary School, brought several Cloverdale first and second grade students to present a collage of their recent experiences visiting the Roanoke Mini-Maker Faire at the Science Museum of Western Virginia in Roanoke.

Maker Faire is a series of worldwide events which inventors, engineers, artists, and educators gather to spread their creative knowledge with the attendees. The organization describes the events as “The Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth.” With the creativity and innovation involved, one could easily understand why.

Boardwine tasked her students with challenges that the kids would present to other students, educators, and creators at the Mini-Maker Faire. One project was a treehouse challenge where students presented a “problem” with a treehouse. These problems included a missing floor, ladder, and other elements needed to complete a treehouse construction.

The second-grade students completed a music challenge by creating music through a computer program that utilized chords, electrodes, and panels. They also worked together with what one student described as, “a lot of soft stuff,” to make bongos and other musical instruments out of gummy bears, Play-Doh, and other foods.

Students also had fun collaborating with their computers and Swedish Fish (the candy, not a Phish cover band from Sweden) which provided smooth bass lines, rhythm, and vocals while covering pop legends to the person who wrote the melody to “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

When the students attended the Maker Faire, they took their knowledge of the technology they learned to use and passed on their wisdom to other inquisitive students. Not only that, but the Cloverdale students had the chance to learn new skills shown by their peers in attendance at the fair. The Maker Faire obviously provides a true learning experience for everyone involved.

Other skills the students learned included robotics, 3D printing, and mineral identification. One of the more popular learning activities featured upcycling old books by turning them into paper-based porcupines.

For more information on attending or joining Maker Faire visit roanoke.makerfaire.com.

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