Makerspace Challenges from APS Librarians

See also Arlington Public Library’s Makerspace Page.

Makerspace Challenge #9


Hallowe’en gives us many opportunities to show off our creativity! Schools across APS will have costume contests and virtual parades as well as pumpkin decorating contests and shows. Send a photo of what you produce to margaret . so that it can be shared!  Your challenge is to demonstrate DOUBLE USE or “recycling prowess” of some kind. Think of how to recycle or UP-CYCLE at least some of your materials and H-B might just have a prize for you!

Thank you to all Green Club-ers for inspiration!

Makerspace Challenge #8

Sam’s mom, an APS Librarian, recently heard from her 24-year-old that he was handling the quarantine very well. “Not going stir crazy yet, son?” Nope! It soon became clear why he wasn’t growing tired of looking at the same four walls even as he entered the 7th week of working from home.

An indoor fort made of hanging sheets, cushions, streaming lights and clothespins.
Photo courtesy of smwright at Flickr Creative Commons “attribution” license.

Sam, his roommate, and the dogs tapped into their creativity and decided to take over one room in the house to “build a fort.” So, this week’s challenge asks you to COMPLETELY transform your learning space so that you have a new “indoors” to inspire you. Drape sheets, throw the cushions on the floor, design an old-timey communication system with the outside world, make your “rainy day house” something that takes your imagination someplace entirely new! (Then get cozy, turn on a lamp in there and enjoy a terrific book.)

Check out this collection of “homemade fort” pictures at Flickr.

Send pictures of YOUR fort to margaret. carpenter (no spaces) or “reply” to the 5/11/2020 Tweet from @hbwlibrary.

Makerspace Challenge #7

During periods of social isolation and/or challenge, it’s important to keep one’s spirits up through mindful “gratitude.”

This Maker Challenge asks you to develop a silly award and “trophy” for someone in your life who provides you uplift of any major or minor type. Grab anything from nature, dress it up with a ribbon or fancy label. Then give it as a “thanks” that acknowledges very specifically the way that person is helping you manage.  If you can’t deliver it right away, photo your “award” and send it digitally.  Let us librarians publicly post your celebration of that person here by sending it to margaret. carpenter (no spaces) or “replying” to the 5/4/2020 Tweet from @hbwlibrary.

Seed pods, ribbons and a note saying 'You are the Best" are displayed as materials for creating an award.

Example:  H-B Woodlawn’s Instructional Technologist Tyler was FLOODED with emails containing the most heartwarming THANKS from our community this month. That’s because he is patient, resourceful, responsive and extremely clear and helpful with his tech coaching. Can you guess which item is the one I found from nature to spray paint gold so that I can present him a “Countering and Clobbering Co-ViD Award?”

The “trophy” you make doesn’t have to be anything fancy. (In fact, dopey can be funny!) But it can cheer a family member and express your gratitude for ANYTHING like…

  • outstanding pet care
  • a great meal made for the family
  • responsibly replacing the TP roll with consistency
  • keeping the laughter going
  • dishes done with a sparkle and cheer
  • initiating new “off screens” activities to do together like board games, charades, “Two Truths and a Lie” games and putting them onto the master schedule to do once a week…

Makerspace Challenge #6

An origami bookmark is decorated to look like an owl.

Use paper in an unusual way to create a bookmark that is something extra special.  Kay Miller, the librarian at Kenmore Middle School offers you inspiration with the first two videos.  (When you share the videos with your book club, be sure to give her credit!)  See why Kay gets the nickname “Lady Ori-gaga-mi.”

Have even more fun:

Reply to our April 27 posting @hbwlibrary on Twitter, or e-mail a photo of your creation to margaret . (no spaces) to share.

Become a contributing author of a Makerspace Challenge! The best challenges involve Design Thinking and Inventing. Draft a challenge, add a graphic if you can, and email it in to Maggie at the address above.

Makerspace Challenge #5

Cartoon shows a spork in Star Trek costume with hand raised in the gesture that represents "Live long and prosper" greeting of Spock.
Image Source:

Invent a Ur-tensil and win H-B’s Green Club’s Contest! It’s a great way to celebrate Earth Day 2020 —all spring long!  Follow instructions here:  Cutlery Challenge.

Many thanks to H-B’s Green Club (especially Mike Cruse) for authoring this challenge for makers everywhere! Submit your questions and/ or video entry anytime before September, 2020 to Michael . Cruse (no spaces).   Watch this space to learn who wins!

But don’t stop there!  The Earth needs us.   See more Earth Day activities!



image shows a building similar to Greece's Parthenon with many columns and a frieze.

Makerspace Challenge #4:


Teachers and families are engaged in MONUMENTAL task of transforming learning activities for virtual learning environments as we respond to the CoViD-19 pandemic. In years ahead, we’ll want to remember this time and thank all for their heroics and ability to make positive contributions to learning.  Your task is to design and build a (miniature) monument that celebrates everyone’s efforts.  (Alternate project: Celebrate health care workers, essential workers, instead.)


  • Draw inspiration from some famous monuments, many of which are simple and symbolic.(You can look up landmarks and monuments in the library’s databases.)
  • Use mostly recycled materials?
  • Consider it as a gathering spot for many to come pay tribute. Does it need surrounding gardens? facilities?
  • Will your space apply architectural elements like adherence to the golden ratio? domes? pillars? Greek columns?
  • Decoration: Arabic geometric designs? Greek, Asian, African “gods of wisdom” motifs?
  • Incorporate your school’s motto, philosophy, colors or mascotVerbum Sap Sat,  The Three Pillars, spork?
  • If you draw, include a frieze that celebrates specific hero-leaders. If you sculpt with clay or salt/flour, make statues.  If you paint, add portraits.  Be original, or consider if they might recollect/echo other famous statues or works of art in a “wink” to the folks who come visit.
  • Share a photo at H-B’s library twitter feed @hbwlibrary or by e-mailing it to margaret . carpenter (no spaces) and we’ll unveil it here!

Photograph shows and entry to the 2012 Edible Book Challenge held by Cherrydale Public Library in Arlington. Seven onion rings form the shape of a human to depict "Lord of the (onion) Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkein.

Makerspace Challenge #3: 

While APS Librarians are on Spring Break, we thank Arlington’s PUBLIC librarians for the inspiration and support they ALWAYS give.  Makerspace Challenge #3 asks you to dig into your kitchen cupboards and rise to an Edible Book Contest! While Cherrydale Library couldn’t host one this year, their past efforts are amazing and HILARIOUS to view.

How it works:

A book cover of a title called TURKEY is accompanied by a photo of a cheeseball in the shape of a turkey.
H-B’s library Twitter feed @hbwlibrary has even more creations for this Edible Book Challenge.

The book called "Runaway Bunny" is depicted as a set of pancakes in the shape of a rabit in order to achieve an Edible Book. It was submitted by Carol at H-B Woodlawn.

  1. Think of a book.
  2. How would you convey its title or celebrate that book with a food creation?
  3. Execute!
  4. Share a photo!

Photos from APL at demonstrate how it’s done. Which book does each edible creation represent?  Oh, my word, those photos are so funny!

Inspired?  Then get creating with anything you have in your kitchen. Use the Twitter feed @hbwlibrary to reply with a photo of your family’s creation. Otherwise, e-mail it to margaret . carpenter (no spaces) to share.

Don’t have a book title in mind but want to create art or stories instead? APL is taking creations of other sorts for their Quaranzine. (How adorbs is THAT title?)

See how Arlington Public Library’s web site has met the challenge of providing extraordinary library services during our response to CoViD 19.  “The library is (*virtually!*) ALWAYS open!”   You are amazing, APL, and we love you for having our backs!

Makerspace Challenge #2  

You saw this one coming, right?  “Get Growing!”

Picture shows gardening materials, including soil, seeds, sliced vegetables and repurposed plastic "clamshell" containers to use as pots.
“Get Growing!”

Inspired by 7th grade gardeners in Sam’s class, we’re growing together and tracking that growth with a time lapse journal! What can you use to create a demonstration of GROWTH over TIME? How can you capture that growth and share it a time lapse record?

Yogurt cups, paper cups or plastic “clamshells” like the cherry tomato container pictured above are useful for potting a handful of soil. (You can also use an egg carton.) Experiment with the seeds cut from your salad vegetables or fruit or a handful of grass seed that a neighbor can spare. (Seeds from peppers and pumpkins grow pretty fast.) Sam taught me that you can snip off the long green parts of a green onion, put it in glass witha a little water, and the green blades will will grow back pretty fast. (Keep the water fresh.)

Get started and stick with it!

  • Plan to compare pictures with a friend; it’s motivating!  Text a picture to show what a mess you are making as you assemble your supplies!
  • Using a plastic “clam shell” (the container used to package cherry tomatoes in the grocery store, for example) will work great. That’s because the holes in the bottom provide drainage onto a plate that you place beneath…in case you over water. In fact, the clam shell container can be closed up to create a greenhouse effect whereby you don’t have to water as often on a scorching day. (The water evaporates, condenses, and re-waters your soil.)
  • Have no soil? All you need is a wet paper towel in a glass to grow beansprouts– enough for a salad or pho in fewer than 15 days. (H-B, send Maggie an e-mail and she’ll mail you a packet of seeds for sprouts or chives while supplies last.)
  • Herb gardens succeed on window sills. Learn about how many days it takes for a plant to germinate or mature at the Burpee web site. Dig around that site to learn how often you need to water your plants.
  • Don’t have potting soil? Next time you take a walk, take a small container with you. I bet you’ll see someone gardening. Ask if they can spare you a scoop or just take a teeny tiny amount at a park.
  • Loosen up tough, dense soil if you gather it straight from the ground by mixing in a half a cup of smashed up mulch or adding a bit of sand. Seeds like a soil that’s a little “airy.”
  • It’s best to plant a crop of seeds spaced apart in case some don’t germinate or some of your seedlings fail to thrive.
  • Think and get crafty: What can you do to make your project a pretty centerpiece at your dinner table?

Share by keeping a time-lapse record:

  • Make sure you snap a photo on Day One. But make sure you…
  • Place an everyday object like a penny into the picture so that people can track the SCALE of the growth. (Maggie puts her cup of coffee into each picture.) With such, you can compare the increasing height of your plant consistently to the same object as time goes by.)
  • Organize a means of recording your effort in a “time lapse” journal. You can easily manage this project on a Google Doc, Twitter or Instagram.
  • Mark your Virtual Schooling daily schedule to take your photo at the same time of each day so that it becomes part of your new routine. (You’ll like how it adds a teeeeeeny bit of structure to our new not-so-well structured Virtual Schooling days.)
  • Put a reminder onto your device to remember to water on schedule.

Check in! Maggie took a photo of her lettuce project on the first day of virtual school. She’s demonstrating the growth over time each week at her Twitter Feed. She’s hoping to “harvest” her first salad before the end of May. Send a photo of YOUR efforts to Maggie by e-mail, or reply to the Twitter Feed of @hbwlibrary or share your time lapse google doc with margaret . carpenter @ (no spaces.)

colorful cards made from paper, feathers, wire

Makerspace Challenge #1: 

In the spirit of H-B’s beloved librarian-poet of many years, Judy Mayeux, I am posting a challenge for the crafting and makerspace where YOU ARE this week. Find some crafting supplies and make a few greeting or thank you cards. Use to express your gratitude to someone in our community who is helping: a grocery store worker, hospital employee, an AFAC volunteer, a school principal, a teacher trying distance learning instruction for the first time…. Get work address, if necessary, and snail mail it to them. Ideas:

  • use feathers, googly eyes, embroidery yarn, beads, thread, fabric, and any of these great tips here
  • share a favorite poem, quote from a book, or inspirational saying
  • take inspiration from mosaics to create a design or border
  • apply a style of calligraphy ; practice your penmanship
  • investigate Australian aboriginal art and use a cotton swab to apply its style and symbolism
  • recycle a piece of scrap paper to construct your own envelope
  • learn how to address a snail mail envelope

Next steps:

Share a photo of your creation with a Twitter reply to @hbwlibrary (Just don’t show any addresses there, right?) If you don’t have Twitter access, e-mail your result to Maggie at: margaret . carpenter @  (no space

Become a contributing author of a Makerspace Challenge! The best challenges involve Design Thinking and Inventing. Draft a challenge and email it in to Maggie at the address above. (APS librarians can add their challenge to the Google Doc. Include a graphic if you can!)