This week, we tested the workshop for our Arduino kits and the Circuits 1-2-3 web application. And, admittedly, I went into it pretty unprepared. The goal of the session was for Brown to test his workshop to make sure it was clear and understandable for all skill levels and familiarity levels with circuits. He probably could not have asked for a better test subject (or at least not a less-informed one). He walked us through some basic concepts in circuits and demonstrated the Circuits 1-2-3 application, which really is a great tool for anyone building any kind of electronics. Essentially, you can explode as many LED bulbs as necessary to get the correct configuration without ever having to move to a real circuit.
We talked about how current flows toward the ground (this explains a lot about household appliances and wiring), about how electricity flows through a circuit board (or bread board), and I even learned a little bit about programming (I was grateful I had just had an introductory lesson to HTML, which shares some similar structure). The metaphor of electricity as water amazed me in its simplicity and in its effectiveness. It helped turn a concept that was foreign and maybe even a little bit dangerous (who doesn’t carry a small innate fear of electrocution!?) into something manageable and applicable to my own life. I began to feel confident about understanding concepts that I previously would have been extremely doubtful about grasping.
What I like about the workshops is the ability to take a complex concept and break it down in such a way that it becomes realistic for anyone to do. I feel this is a major goal of the workshops and of the grant and Mobile Makerspace. While I learned several years ago through some somewhat painful trial and error that I was capable of doing many things if I was just willing to learn, this is something that a lot of people have yet to realize or have forgotten.
What dawned on me after we completed our test workshop is that the confidence I felt will reflect the approach others take during our actual sessions; the realization that with a little coaching, they too could be capable of creating with the Arduino kits or 3D printers, or maybe even some other creative tool we don’t even talk about. The EVEN better part is that they will be able to make these things very doable in our everyday lives - and libraries.