Elon embraces the National Week of Making

Posted on: July 19, 2016 | By: Jessica Gore | Filed under: Tech Tips

Elon students, alumni, and faculty participated in this year’s national Week of Making with conferences, faires, and White House exhibits. We led discussions, educated the public, and even took home awards – and we wanted to make sure that you heard about it.

National Week of Wha’?

The National Week of making is born out of a grassroots movement that focuses on rejuvenating American culture and education through supporting ‘makers’: tinkerers, musicians, artists, carpenters, programmers, entrepreneurs, farmers, etc. Adam Savage, from MythBusters, has a short but fervent video that talks about this movement and the Week of Making here

President Obama has recognized the importance of this movement. In an effort to encourage and support the maker movement Obama declared a National Day of Making with a National Maker Faire, to usher in a newly proclaimed Nation of Makers, in 2014. In 2015 Obama upped the ante, deciding that a Week of Making is way better than a single day. The Week of Making includes the National Maker Faire as well as a number of smaller events and conferences. 

This year’s National Week of Making took place from June 17th – 23rd.

National Maker Faire and what Elon did there

Elon participated in this year’s National Maker Faire as a part of the Alamance County Maker’s exhibit. The exhibit was a snapshot of a thriving maker community in a midsize American city. A community that encourages exploration, creates new products, and inspires innovation. The team consisted of 17 individuals across 12 organizations – including Elon’s Maker Hub – as well as individual makers like Elon alum Ian Baltutis, the Mayor of Burlington. The exhibit was organized by Ben Harris, founder and director of the Alamance Makers Guild. For more information on Harris and the Alamance Makers Guild follow this link to a quick video where you can also spot Mayor Baltutis! For a full list of the organizations in the exhibit check out this Times News article. The exhibit was awarded FIVE (yes, count it: five) Editor’s Choice Blue Ribbon Awards.

Elon itself was represented by Samantha Berry, Jon Howar, and Professor Tony Crider. Crider is an award-winning Associate Professor of Physics, Samantha Berry is an Elon student and Social Media Consultant for the Burlington Mini Maker Faire, and Jon Howar is a 2016 graduate and recipient of the Elon Kickbox project grant for his hydroponic system of growing food inside a small living space. 


Jon Howar explaining his hydroponic gardening system at the National Maker Faire in Washington, D.C.

Howar was thrilled to be a part of the exhibit. He told us that during the faire he “spoke with homeowners, farmers, students from middle school to college, and educators. There was a significant amount of interest in buying or assembling a kit or instructions and putting it together for themselves.” Jon’s experience epitomizes the goal of the Maker Faire – an open market for burgeoning ideas that is supportive, creative, and expansive.

If you’d like to hear more about Alamance’s goals through the Maker movement, see the Alamance Exhibit at the National Faire, or just watch our Mayor play giant Tetris, follow this link

And not just in D.C. – we had places to be!

Elon’s presence at the National Maker Faire was definitely exciting, and we’re very proud, but that isn’t the end of our story. Dan Reis and Michael Vaughn are Instructional Technologists at Elon that oversee Elon’s Maker Hub. They’re passionate about tinkering and talking and talking about tinkering – which is exactly what they did.

Vaughn and Reis presented together at the New Media Consortium, “the Global Ed Tech Forum for Higher Ed, Museums, Libraries and Schools,” in Rochester, NY, over June 14th-16th.  The role of the Consortium is to help their members drive innovation across their campuses by catalyzing discussion, convening people around new ideas, and building communities that encourage exploration and experimentation. 

Vaughn and Reis gave a presentation on Elon’s Maker Hub titled “Wake & Make: Building a Makerspace in a Residence Hall”. They invited their audience to tinker with maker technologies and learn about maker culture and pedagogy, the grassroots effort that led to the creation of this makerspace, and how this project supports the intellectual climate on campus. Reis said of the experience that “the NMC Summer Conference was a great mix of educators all talking about the role of new media in education. It was very helpful to learn how other universities and libraries are supporting makers on their campuses and integrating maker-projects into courses.” 


The photobooth from the Hub made an encore appearance at the NMC Conference! Elon Student Ryan Lewis did the coding for the booth. Reis and Vaughn pictured.

Part of an alliance

Vaughn and Reis are also both Regional Leaders for the MakeSchools Alliance. Launched in 2014 the Alliance brings together higher education institutions so that they can share with, inspire, and support each other through the process of creating makerspaces. Vaughn and Reis as regional leaders commit to continuing the conversation and strengthening the maker community within higher ed institutions in North Carolina.

The MakeSchools Alliance penned a letter to the President this year that was signed by 81 higher education institutions – including, of course, Elon. The letter summarizes the continued efforts and vision of the organization, reiterating its belief that the maker movement could have a real impact on innovation, industry, research, and education, and could even help boost the economy, and pledges to promote the movement to the public.

On June 21st Vaughn co-led a discussion at MakeSchools’ Higher Ed Alliance Symposium in D.C. hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  Among the discussions on curriculum concepts, community building, and recruiting more makers, Vaughn spoke on creating makerspaces. He talked about the steps Elon took to create our Maker Hub, and the lessons learned along the way. The presentation illustrated the planning, implementation, and current effectiveness of our Maker Hub, and got to show off our Kickbox initiative! Vaughn believes that Elon’s attendance “firmly establishes Elon as a contributor to the national maker movement and making in higher education.”

Making our way forward

5 awards, 2 conferences, and 1 amazing movement made for an exciting week for Elon. But the Elon maker movement is a year-round affair; if you’re feeling the urge to create, or would like to know more, come visit our Maker Hub! The webpage with our information can be found here.  

If you’d like to learn more about the Alamance Makers Guild have a look at their website here, or find @AlamanceMakersGuild on Facebook. 


Panorama of the National Maker Faire.


3 responses to “Elon embraces the National Week of Making”

  1. Eddy T. says:

    This is an awesome post. I love hearing that Obama expanded the event from one day to a whole week. Great job!

  2. MaxDo says:

    Wow! Fantastic Movement. Didn’t know about the Obama administration support this thing. Amazing activities at fair as well. Great Job and good reading.

  3. Madhab says:

    Awesome post. Really President Obama has recognized the importance of this movement.