Making steps with MakerSpace and MakerStudio

Earlier this year, Johnson was chosen by the University of Virginia to receive a grant through ALCOA to bring new and exciting technology into our library. A new software is being designed and beta tested for student use, and UVA wanted us to be a part of its creation. (Um, sign me up please!) After a series of meetings, I was able to create custom profiles for a small group of students to get them logged in, exploring, and learning about the digital maker movement.

I asked them, “Would you like to skip recess in order to be a part of a team to beta test new groundbreaking software for students everywhere?” Can you guess what they said?


MakerStudio (#makerstudio) is an online program that provides a blank canvas for users to create and explore. Using a wide variety of tools, users can tell their stories in vivid color through free design or a selection of ready-to-use shapes and clipart. They can add text, layers, shapes, or use mathematical tools to enhance their art. More experienced users can toggle one of the advanced options to create a document specially designed to include a 3-D popup, link to a Silhouette die-cutting machine, or make scanned artwork come to life. The options with MakerStudio are limitless – and we have been chosen to test it out!


The first time we logged this group into the program, Miss Esposito and I had one rule – we have no rules. We set the group loose without any guidelines, directions, or pointers. When they asked questions, we pushed them to find the answers themselves. When they got frustrated, we asked then to retrace their steps and try again. This, my friends, is Making at its best – trying, failing, trying again, and learning from your mistakes. It was amazing to watch them build, delete, rebuild, and grin!

While they were working, the group collected data on any “bugs” or issues that they found in the program. Today, we met with one of the members of the UVA team to show off what we’ve learned, and the group reported the bugs that they had found. Our UVA contact said that she would report the bugs to the software development team and that thanks to Johnson’s students, these issues would be resolved when the software launches live! Another great example of Making in action – using the knowledge and experience you gained from your mistakes to help others succeed.


Kudos to our MakerStudio Student Team! Stay tuned for more updates on our #makerstudio experience with the University of Virginia.

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