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'Make Shop' at Millvale Community Library helping children expand minds, skills

| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Bethany Hofstetter | Trib Total Media
Jason Vinski, 9, works to screw together the frame of the tabletop foosball game that children have spent the summer creating in the Millvale Community Library’s summer Maker Thursday program in which community children are invited to the library space to create projects.
Bethany Hofstetter | Trib Total Media
Jason Vinski, 9, and Nora Peters work to build the tabletop foosball game that children have spent the summer creating in the Millvale Community Library’s summer Maker Thursday program in which community children are invited to the library space to create projects.
Bethany Hofstetter | Trib Total Media
Grace Martin, 10, and Jason Vinski, 9, play a game of foosball on the tabletop game children created in the Millvale Community Library’s summer Maker Thursday program in which community children are invited to the library space to create projects.
Bethany Hofstetter | Trib Total Media
Jaylin Vinski, 9, cuts through a roll of newspaper to create a palm tree in the Millvale Community Library’s summer Maker Thursday program in which community children are invited to the library space to create projects.

Millvale CommunityLibrary is providing a place for children to expand their minds through books and also through hands-on activities.

The library's “Make Shop” in the back room of the library, provides children with the resources to create a different project each day.

“We make with whoever drops in,” said Anna Bieberdorf, 23, of Lawrenceville, one of two Maker Corps summer interns assigned to the library.

Maker Corps, offered through the Maker Education Initiative, was created to provide organizations with staff to incorporate making into the organization's programs. In 2013, Maker Corps served more than 90,000 children and families by placing 108 Maker Corps members in organizations across 19 states, according to the most recent figures on its website.

Bieberdorf and intern Nora Peters, 21, of Squirrel Hill, are continuing programming in the Maker Space that was created at the library through a partnership with the Pittsburgh Children's Museum.

From Tuesday through Friday, Bieberdorf and Peters challenge children to create a different project, including the summer-long projects of making a unicycle and tabletop foosball game.

“Every week we try to do something different,” Peters said. “We want to show them the value of creating and making things.”

Many of the creations made during the program will be on display during Millvale Days, Sept. 11 to 13, including the foosball table, which Jason Vinski, 9, has been working this summer to complete.

“It's pretty good,” said Jason, who donated his action figures to be used as the foosball players. “(At Millvale Days) they'll be like ‘this is awesome, who made it' and look at me.”

Jason's twin sister, Jaylin Vinski, 9, was drawn toward the textiles and created a tote bag during Fiber Friday, which focuses on fabrics and sewing.

Jaylin incorporated some of the lessons she learned in the Make Shop circuitry activities to create a pocket in her tote that lights up when she unbuttons the pocket and the copper-backed button interacts with the conductive thread.

“I thought it was cool and I like that it lights up,” Jaylin said.

Marilou Gehringer of Millvale regularly brings her daughter, Bella, 6, to the library to expose her to everything from a sewing machine to a soldering iron.

“It's great because kids get to use tools and experiment,” Gehringer said. “They're exposed to so much more down here where they're allowed to explore and everyone is valued for what they do.”

“I love how they encourage the kids to explore their minds.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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