I started the Grange Junior Makers because I had many options for my son to participate in sports (local soccer team), music (piano lessons) and education (Kumon) but could find none for tinkering. I wanted him to participate in a community of Makers. So I decided to make a 'club' of kids plus their parents so that they could build interesting and sometimes useful projects (not kits) for free that they can take them home and keep playing with them. The GJM have been meeting once per month for the last two years, building things like paper-plate speakers, vertical gardens, wearable electronics, throwies, wind turbines, giant xylophones and giant paper-airplane launchers. With a SOUP grant, I'd like to expand the number of families that participate from 15 to at least 50 by the end of 2014.
HOW WILL YOU USE SOUP GRANT FUNDING TOWARDS THE REALIZATION OF YOUR PROJECT?
For the last two years, the GjM has been largely self-funded out of my cable TV 'cord cutting' savings. Being creative and modest in project selection, most projects are less than $5/kid to execute. We've been serving at most 15 families per month by word-of-mouth and referrals. I'd like to expand that to at least 50 families this year. Buying parts in bulk saves a lot more money, and I'd like to purchase more (magnets, battery holders, LED's, solder, electrical tape, wood, wire and mini-Arduinos) for this effort.. The Pittsfield Grange has graciously offered a place in their building to store materials, and I'd like to take advantage of that offer and fill a cabinet with enough parts for a growing number of participants to be used for projects through the rest of this year.
WHY DOES THIS PROJECT MATTER TO THE GREATER ANN ARBOR COMMUNITY?
The Maker Movement has been a growing phenomenon across the planet for at least five years, with implications both nationally (American workforce readiness and global competitiveness) and locally ( differentiated education options for early education, fun intro's to science and technology). Ann Arbor is emerging as the 'Silicon Valley' of the Midwest, and I'd love for the GJM to be a part of that effort to get families involved in building and creating together. More tinkerers in Ann Arbor means a greater likelyhood that out of some local garage will come the next HP, Apple or perhaps even some new "heavier-than-air" vehicle.
Click here to learn more about Grange Junior Makers