Maker Learning @ Home Cohort – Digital Promise

Maker Learning @ Home Cohort

How can we create and design opportunities for making at home beyond the COVID-19 pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic and its continued impact have upended nearly every facet of life. For the learners we serve, the shift to distance or hybrid learning amplified inequitable access to meaningful, impactful maker learning experiences. Educators everywhere have been faced with designing engaging learning for a virtual format with limited support. In response to this growing challenge, Digital Promise announced the Maker Learning @ Home Cohort, a six-month professional learning experience for educators committed to continuing opportunities for making while learners are at home. Our hope is that we can capture and distill the successes of those creating home-based maker learning experiences so that all educators can learn how to continue providing access to these experiences, no matter when or where.

Announcing the 2021 Maker Learning @ Home Cohort
In February 2021, seven educators representing five organizations were invited to participate in this experience. The educators representing these organizations expressed a deep commitment to their learners, communities, and to collaborating and learning alongside one another. Digital Promise is supporting each organization with designing a unique maker project and providing $5,000 to actualize their project.

At the culmination of this cohort experience, Digital Promise will publish the Maker Learning @ Home Project Guide, an Open Educational Resource (OER) including each of the organization’s project guides, as well as protocols and strategies for planning relevant and accessible home-based maker learning experiences.

Denver Public Library
Denver, Colorado
The Denver Public Library consists of 26 branch locations across the City and County of Denver as well as a mobile service unit. Our mission is to create welcoming spaces together, with our community, where all are free to explore and connect.

Denver Public Library’s ideaLABs provide spaces where people of all ages can drop in to engage in self-directed, interest-based activities where they can use real tools and a range of materials. These experiences cultivate making, life-long learning, collaboration, persistence, and problem-solving. Currently there are six ideaLAB makerspaces located at branches throughout the city.

Andrea Devore
ideaLAB Library Program Associate
What’s something you made recently that you are proud of?
I went a bit craft wild this year and decided to make ALL of the Pinterest crafts from felt ornaments to dried orange garland. However, I’m most proud of the candles I made and gifted to friends and family. I learned that scraping wax off countertops is an art form in itself.

Carly Tam
ideaLAB Library Program Associate
What’s something you made recently that you are proud of?
I successfully established a sourdough starter which I have been nurturing for almost a full year. After getting the hang of baking lots of sourdough bread, bagels, and crackers, I’ve been exploring the potential of incorporating sourdough starter into sweeter baked goods like cookies, muffins, and brownies. Recently, I baked a sourdough chocolate chip banana bread that came out quite nicely!

What is the project you will design and implement with your learners?
We hope to bring at-home DIY gardens to underserved youth in the Denver area while fostering conversations around the role of food in different cultures, sustainable gardening practices, and healthy eating.

Dexter McCarty Middle School
Gresham, Oregon
We are a public middle school (grades 6 – 8) in the Gresham-Barlow School district with around 600 students who are ready to become the next generation of leaders. Our small city is located in the Portland Metro area and is made up of 110,000+ residents.

Matthew O’Reilly
STEAM Teacher
What’s something you made recently that you are proud of?
Recently, I created a digital portfolio template for our students with a “how to” guide so students can update and modify their portfolios to curate their growth and learning.

What is the project you will design and implement with your learners?
In Gresham our homeless population is rising due to several factors. Sadly, it can be difficult for them to get to the services our county offers, so we want to bring the services to them. Our students are working to design mobile service centers for mental and physical health, food banks, showers/bathrooms, soup kitchens, etc.

Glamorous Gemz Inc.
Atlanta, GA
Glamorous Gemz Mentoring Program is a safe haven that provides girls with the tools they need to develop healthy self-esteem and leadership skills. We are on a mission to cultivate a tribe of future leaders through early exposure to college, entrepreneurship, and careers in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). We take pride in educating, empowering, and encouraging our Gemz!

Danielle Rountree
Director and Founder
What is your secret super power?
A human SHERO, I love helping our youth and community! I am excited about this cohort experience with Digital Promise because we share some of the same commitments and passions to our learners.


Danielle Brantley
Grant Writer and Program Coordinator
Why are you excited about this cohort experience?
I am excited about the Maker Learning @ Home Cohort experience of helping learners expand their knowledge and prepare for their future. The future is in the hands of our youth. I am inspired by our future leaders making and honored to be a part of their learning journey.

What is the project you will design and implement with your learners?
Mission Possible is an initiative to bridge the gap between the real world and the classroom by creating hands-on learning experiences that teach the whole child and create real-world impact. Through a series of powerful learning experiences, Mission Possible provides learners with early exposure to STEAM careers, college, and entrepreneurship. Mission Possible’s mission is to teach learners the fundamentals of entrepreneurship by engaging them in hands-on activities that develop their academic and life skills. Learners will be able to design and create their own businesses, products, and services. Mission Possible engages and challenges learners to apply core academic and real-world skills.

Pittsburgh Learning Commons
Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Learning Commons (PLC) is an educational nonprofit whose mission is to provide educational opportunities that break down disciplinary boundaries and relate to real-world contexts and to create environments where learners claim ownership over their education and build lifelong learning skills. We do this by providing affordable access to PLC-run programs, facilitating opportunities for youth to directly inform our space and programming, and by supporting partner organizations and individuals with their capacity to provide meaningful youth programming. All of our offerings highlight and center on youth and children’s perspectives and voice.

Lisa Simon
Assistant Program Manager/Creative Specialist
What is your secret super power?
My superpower is connecting. I love helping to make connections between organizations, talented people, resources, and interests.

What is the project you will design and implement with your learners?
The project we are designing is a collaboratively and digitally designed mural featuring portraits of the young artists creating the mural. The mural’s theme is Dreaming Ourselves Into the Future and it will become a wheat-paste mural. The process involves the artists composing their portraits, which will then be printed in black and white on poster-sized paper and delivered to each artist. The artists will then embellish their portraits with acrylic paint in ways that express their visions for their future selves. Each portrait will then be wheatpasted onto a portable wall to create the overall mural of portraits. Several local sites are interested in hosting the mural (our library, the artists’ schools, and our own organization).

Gabrielle’s Place 
Riverdale, GA

Dawnyette House

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