As we are approaching the 2023 Des Moines Mini Maker Faire, we wanted to learn more about Lee Adams and her passion for making as well as her interest in Dungeons and Dragons. We are excited for her to provide our participants with opportunities to explore the world of D&D and even participate in a mini campaign known as a One Shot.
Us: How would you define/ describe “making”?
Lee: I would say that “making” is the intentional act of creating something tangible. I think that making happens after inspiration and ideation, when someone has an idea that they can’t get out of their heads and has a plan to bring it to life. It’s the most active and hands-on part of the creative process.
Us: What were / are your areas of study?
Lee: I attended The University of Iowa and studied Studio Art, Psychology, and Writing because I was interested in so many things and couldn’t make up my mind. I’m glad that I learned and continue to learn about a variety of things– it helps you see the connections between everything. Those connections are what get me really excited!
Us: What got you interested in these fields?
Lee: I have always been a creative and a daydreamer, making up worlds and stories in my head when I didn’t have anything else to do (and sometimes when I did have other things to do– oops!) As a kid growing up with undiagnosed ADHD, I was forced to improvise when I missed something or wasn’t entirely sure what was going on. Strangely, I think that this actually increased my creative confidence and helped me utilize ingenuity as a secret weapon of sorts. I really relied on it academically, so it was only natural to go into something like art or writing. I think that my interest in psychology stemmed from my love of writing; I was constantly making characters and figuring out their motives, and I enjoy learning about how people’s brains work.
Us: What is your connection to The Science Center of Iowa?
Lee: I am a full-time employee and my position title is “Innovation Coordinator” which is exactly as fun as it sounds! I help with both the creation and the facilitation of our outreach events, working mainly with kids and teens to help them see how creativity can be useful in everything.
Us: What are some of your favorite maker activities?
Lee: I love it all. I love photography and painting and poetry and prose and gardening and journaling and cooking and– I think you get the point. My favorite activities are ones that weave together multiple disciplines. I think one of the best examples of this has to be Dungeons and Dragons (or D&D for short.) It may seem like just a silly little game, but it can overlap with almost any hobby or area of interest because, essentially, you are creating your own reality and there are no limitations to how far it can go.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the game, I would describe it as co-creating a story with your friends who can either be a character (player) or the narrator (dungeon master or DM.) The DM’s job is to create a plot– typically fantasy or sci-fi related– that will be engaging and fun for their players. It’s also their job to know the lore and mechanics of the game, which involves a
lot of storytelling and math calculations. They make a setting and a plot that will entice their players to interact with it, and set up fun role-play and combat encounters with non-player characters (NPCs) and monsters to fight or befriend. Players talk as their characters a
nd inhabit the world that the DM has crafted, driving the story forward by rolling dice to see how successful their character is in their actions, sort of like an RPG video game, but in real life. The actions of the players can completely change the outcome of the story, which is why it’s so fun.
You can contribute to this game with nearly any hobby: drawing characters with your artistic skills, creating cosplays using fashion design, making stat blocks for a new monster using math, or even turning your campaign into the next best-selling novel by documenting it in writing. It’s a bottomless pit of fun and creativity and I would recommend it to anyone!
Us: Why do you think “making” is important?
Lee: As I implied above, I have a hard time with linear thinking. I used to see this as a bad thing because it caused me to struggle in areas like math and chemistry which were deemed “more important” than creative pursuits by society when I was growing up. As I got older and acquired more experience, however, I realized that nothing is mutually exclusive and that you can draw connections between anything. Creativity is not only present in every discipline– it’s necessary. When you allow your thoughts to meander about through the scenic route of your brain, you see lots of cool new things and discover solutions that you wouldn’t have found if you had floored it and sped down the highway to the quickest answer. Innovative thinking takes time and effort and intentionality. “Making” is not only a way to tangibly express this style of thought as an exercise for your brain’s creativity muscles, but it’s also a way to help those around you. Whether your creation is something as simple as a D&D oneshot that helps your friends unwind and have fun, or as life-changing as a cure for a terminal disease, everything you make is impactful to someone– even if it’s only yourself.