We took some time to sit down with Celeste Moreno, a resident of Boulder, Colorado, to learn about how she got started as a Maker and the roll the Science Center of Iowa played in her journey. Here are her responses:
How would you define/describe “making”?
To me, “making” is a celebration of the skills and practices that shape our lives; mending a ripped pair of pants, building a house, baking cookies, customizing a skateboard. People are creative and inventive and “making” is one way that we express this. It’s a way of solving problems, caretaking, innovating, and creating beauty.
What are you studying at the University of Colorado in Boulder?
I’m studying the intersection of education, design, and technology at the ATLAS Institute at CU Boulder as a Ph.D. student. My studies and research are focused on how to design creative learning experiences for learners of all ages, particularly in places like museums and libraries.
What got you interested in this field?
I got interested in designing learning experiences during my undergraduate program at Iowa State University. I was enrolled in a program called Biological and Pre-Medical Illustration and in this program we learned a lot about how to effectively and accurately communicate science using creative methods like animation and illustration. One of my favorite projects that I made was a life-size replica of a wooly mammoth’s foot that was designed to be an educational tool. During this project I realized that I wanted to know more about how people learn, and how creative approaches to education like “making” can support learning. This program, along with my volunteer experience at the Science Center, opened my eyes to how much learning takes place outside of the classroom in spaces like museums, libraries, online, at home, etc. I became interested in understanding what’s special or different about the learning that happens there and I wanted to understand how best to design for learning in these spaces.
What are some of your favorite maker activities?
One of my favorite maker activities is wind-up toy dissections and remixes. It’s fun and fascinating to take apart wind-up toys and reveal the mechanisms that make the toys work. You’ll find gears, springs, screws, and more hidden inside the plastic shell. When I do this activity, I usually ask people to predict what they think is inside the toy first, then we use small screwdrivers and tools to take apart the toy. After we compare what we thought was inside the toy to what’s really inside of it we make “Frankenstein” wind-up toys. Learners repurpose the mechanisms they dissected and borrow bits and pieces from other toys to create wind-up toys that look funny or move in interesting ways. I love how this activity encourages learners to develop a curiosity about the mechanisms inside of familiar objects, gives them a little bit of experience with small tools, and creates an opportunity to not only take something apart– but to make something new. This activity is a great creativity kick-starter and it’s always a lot of fun.
Why do you think “making” is important?
“Making” is important for many reasons but here are a couple big ones: I think “making”, at its best, builds on the expertise that all people and communities possess. It lifts up and celebrates existing knowledge and skills as valuable ways of learning about and making sense of the world. Making expands the vocabulary that we have to express our ideas and investigate our questions. It gives us a wider variety of materials and tools to explore and bring our ideas to life with.
What is your connection to the Science Center of Iowa?
The Science Center of Iowa has always been a part of my life in big and small ways. My mom partially credits her visits to the old Science Center with her grandpa as part of what sparked her interest in science (which was eventually passed on to me). I have lots of memories of visiting both the old and new Science Center with my school classmates and family. During college, I started to volunteer at the Science Center and I loved it so much that I applied to be a “maker-in-residence” and began working at the Science Center in that position after I graduated. I moved on to another job, but eventually made my way back to the science center and worked with the education and exhibits teams for a bit before I moved to Colorado. Now, I’m continuing to collaborate with the Science Center from Colorado and I get to come back from time to time for special occasions like Maker Faire!
Celeste will be facilitating workshops in the Innovation Lab during the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire on September 5 at the Science Center of Iowa. You can purchase advanced tickets on the SCI Website.