Athens Makers was “born” over coffee at the Donkey Coffeehouse in May of 2013. Seann Dikkers and Mark Lucas, two Ohio University faculty (and homeschooling Dads), were both interested in creating learning and creative opportunities for their kids and other kids in the region.
In three weeks we organized our first series of Arduino workshops with about 20 kids and a number of parents in attendance. The Department of Physics and Astronomy was gracious enough to let us use one of the basement labs that was sitting fallow for the summer (Mark is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy). After spending several weeks learning about arduinos, we switched gears and began investigate Minecraft. Seann, at the time a faculty member in the College of Education, has research interests in the gamification of education. He literally wrote the book on how teachers use Minecraft in Education (Check it out at Amazon). Mark and sons got their first minecraft accounts, not one of Mark’s smarter moves.
AthensMakers is currently all-volunteer, so workshops have run in the summer after work hours. Each summer we worked to expand our offerings and learn just a little more about how to run a space like this.
Over the years we have run workshops on everything from the standard tech topics (Arduino microcontrollers, 3D Printing) to movie making to PVC marshmallow shooters to “Judo Bots” using hydraulics and the Maker Cart. We are constantly looking for new ideas.
Seann moved on to greener (or at least snowier) pastures back in his home state of Minnesota to teach at Bethel University, but a number of other people have stepped up to help fill leadership roles in the group. Jen Parsons is the executive director at the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery and a graduate student in educational technology; Dr. Jesse Strycker is a faculty member in educational technology in the Patton College of Education; Dr. Jeff Kuhn is an instructional designer for the Ohio University Office of Instructional Innovation; and Nick Conroy is a science teacher at Nelsonville-York High School. All four have been heavily involved in AthensMaker programming over the last couple summers.
As the Ohio Valley Museum of Discovery works to remodel its new facility on Columbus Road, we are looking to fold the programming for the AthensMakers into the museum under the auspices of the “Discovery Lab”. Stay tuned for more information about this.