Teacher Grants

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Red Mountain Makers offers grants for educators and librarians involved with makerspaces

Red Mountain Makers (RMM) is a non-profit makerspace in Birmingham, a technological cooperative that uses science, technology, engineering, and math to make interesting things. As makers, we have seen the benefits of hands-on exploration and how interaction with other makers and their ideas can spark innovation and creativity. We believe that experiential learning in the classroom through makerspaces can promote interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and open students’ eyes to the potential to design and make things themselves.

We want to support efforts to develop makerspaces in local schools and libraries. We believe that by sharing our knowledge and experience, we can help make these makerspaces more successful.

Through the generosity of a donor, RMM is able to offer ten educators a Maker membership covering the summer of 2015 and the 2015-2016 academic year. These ten educators will be selected through an application process as described below. Educators who meet the criteria but are not selected for the grants are eligible for a half price Maker membership, $10 per month instead of the $20 rate for the general public.

Criteria for Eligibility

Qualifying applicants must be:

  • Actively involved in operating (or actively seeking to establish) a makerspace at a primary or secondary school or public library.
  • Willing to be actively involved at RMM over the summer of 2015 and as much as feasible during the school year. We want you to be a Maker and teach from your experience.
  • Willing to actively build relationships with other grant participants and with the members of RMM to allow sharing of best practices, ideas, and insights.

Application Process

Applicants should complete the application form and email it by May 15, 2015 to teachergrants@redmountainmakers.org. Applications can be submitted as a Word document, Rich Text Format, or PDF.

>>> Deadline has been extended to Friday, May 22, 2015 <<<

The application is intended to give RMM basic information about each applicant rather than to be exhaustive. A paragraph or two for each section is sufficient. The objectives of each section are described below.

Describe yourself (professionally and whatever else you consider relevant)
Tell us about yourself, your professional background and responsibilities, and your other interests. Help us to understand you and what interests you.

What is your current (or past) involvement with makerspaces?
Tell us what your organization is doing and how you are involved, or what you are doing to get a makerspace started. Whether you are running a successful makerspace, or struggling and relying on what you find on the internet, or still trying to convince your administrators, you may be a good candidate. If you are involved with robotics or other projects promoting STEM education but not really a “makerspace”, let us know – you may still be a candidate.

Why are you interested in makerspaces?
What led you to get involved in your institution's makerspace or to push to have one? What do you want to accomplish through having a makerspace?

What would you like to get out of this program?
What are your objectives? How would you like this program to evolve? Is there anything specific you'd like to learn or to do?

How available are you during the summer to actively participate at RMM?
How much will you be able to participate and take advantage of the opportunity?

How available do you think you will be during the school year?
Will you be able to participate in our regular activities or just educator-focused events? Will you stay in active contact with the other grant participants?

May we share your contact information with the educators in the program?
One objective of this program is networking among educators involved in operating makerspaces, so with your permission we would share your contact information with the educators who are selected for the program.

Selection Process

Applications will be reviewed by the selection committee and qualified applicants will be identified. The committee will select the recipients of the grants from the qualified applicants with the objective of maximizing the impact of the grants. The primary consideration when selecting individual applicants is whether the applicant will be actively engaged. More broadly, we will seek diverse backgrounds and experience, and to have representation of multiple institutions.

This is a new process and will be an experiential learning process for us, so the criteria will evolve based on the committee's discussions. The one certainty is that RMM does not discriminate based on sex, race, national origin, or other extraneous factors (though we do really like smart people with interesting ideas!).

Frequently Asked Questions

What is “Red Mountain Makers”?
RMM was formed in March 2012 by a core group who had been involved with makerspaces in other cities and who wanted a makerspace in Birmingham. They met in homes and restaurants until October 2013, when they rented the bottom floor of Woodrow Hall in Woodlawn at 5502 1st Avenue North. Much of the group's effort in 2014 was spent renovating an old medical clinic with many small rooms into a usable space and preparing our 501(c)3 application, which was approved in December 2014. In 2015, RMM's focus is shifting outward.

So what is a Maker?
A maker is an artisan, tinker, artist, inventor – anyone who creates something themselves or takes things apart to see how they work. The Maker Movement has blossomed in the US through the influence of Make magazine, web sites such as www.instructables.com, www.etsy.com, and www.thingiverse.com, and the increased availability of 3D printers and other technology. The online support communities for Raspberry Pi microcomputers and inexpensive Arduino microcontrollers have made the use of advanced technology more accessible to everyone.

Why are you doing this?
We recognize that teachers are chronically short of money and short of time, so joining a makerspace is not exactly their first priority. But we believe that learning to make things changes the way that you look at yourself and the world, and this can be crucial for youth. The ability to make things empowers you and gives you a stronger sense of control over your life. Making teaches us that problems have solutions; we just need to find the right approach.

I'm already making things. Why do I need to join a group?
A makerspace provides two key things: equipment and community. A makerspace gives you access to a wide range of equipment you could never afford on your own, but the community is the important part. Being a part of a community gives you access to knowledge, experience, ideas, and inspiration. Seeing how someone else approaches their project can give you insight on your own project, and the people you meet can help fill in the gaps in your knowledge.

Can I come visit the makerspace?
Definitely! We are not open 24/7, so check our web site for scheduled events. The best times to visit are on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday evenings when we have regularly scheduled events. Tuesdays are focused on Arduino and other microcontrollers, Thursdays are Hack and Craft (essentially art meets technology, including 3D printing), and Sundays are our weekly Maker Meets where makers can propose group projects and we deal with administrivia. Come take a tour!

All events are posted on meetup.com.

Can I join the Red Mountain Makers without being part of this program?
Any adult can become a Maker for $20 a month and have access to the facility and equipment any time it is open. Makers who show a commitment to supporting the operation of the space can be nominated as key-holding members with 24/7 access for $35 a month. On-site storage and private studios are available to key-holding members for an additional fee.

What do you have to offer?
RMM has a Computer Lab with two 3D printers, a Shape Lab with woodworking and metalworking equipment, a Circuits Lab with workbenches, test equipment and parts, a Hack Zone with hackable parts, a Fiber Lab with looms and sewing machines, a meeting room with projector and computers, and the beginnings of a Photo Lab and Bio Lab that should be completed by the end of May.

Members' experience and expertise includes:

  • Using and troubleshooting 3D printers, including making replacement parts
  • 3D modeling
  • Microcontrollers, including Arduino, Arduino clones, TI MSP430, and Cypress PSoC
  • Motor control and sensors, including industrial applications
  • Silicon molding and injection molding
  • Circuit design and etching printed circuit boards
  • Building electric race cars for the Power Racing Series
  • Demolition and construction
  • Cabinet making and woodworking
  • Wiki setup and maintenance
  • Web development
  • Graphic design & communications
  • Weaving and use of industrial sewing machines
  • Textiles
  • Sewing
  • Pattern Drafting
  • Computer networking
  • Software development
  • GitHub and other software version control software