Skip to main content

Parlez-Vous Makerspace?

| Liliana LaValle

French class makerspace

Dr. Jessica Miller saw our April Blugold Makerspace workshops advertised and made connections to her course content in French. Her students were learning about a plastic bag ban in North Africa, and our T-shirt tote bag workshop seemed relevant. She decided to plan a lesson in which students articulated in French what they were doing as they made their tote bags. I sent Dr. Miller a copy of the workshop instructions in advance so that she could prepare a vocabulary list. She asked students to bring their own shirt to the class. During the class, I showed students how to make a reusable tote bag out of an old T-shirt and we discussed how this project related to their readings about the plastic bag ban. Dr. Miller reminded students of key vocabulary and they were encouraged to explain to their group in French how they had made the bag. Students were comfortable using words like sleeves, collar, and fringe, but how do you explain the process of tying knots? And what is the French equivalent of inside-out? This workshop was a great way for students to apply the vocabulary they’d learned, and they were naturally curious about other phrases that would help them express themselves.

There was plenty of time between cutting and tying knots to discuss other topics as well. Students spoke in French about where their shirts had come from, whether their new tote bags could fit a “petit chien,” and their weekend plans. I don’t speak French, but I picked up enough Spanish cognates to hear one student tell her group she planned on running the Eau Claire marathon with her family. While making a tote bag was easy, translating thoughts across languages was more challenging -- but it was all happening simultaneously over scissors, scraps, and laughter.

French class makerspace

This is just one example of the many ways that we can work with you and your class to create something amazing at the Makerspace. Dr. Catherine Hennessy Wolter has assigned her Music History students a radio kit project to better understand music technology. They come to the Makerspace to use the soldering irons and learn electronic skills. We have tools and supplies for a wide range of creative projects, and we’re hosting new workshops all the time. The space accommodates groups of up to 16 people. If you have a larger class, we can schedule them in sections or students can come to the Makerspace on their own to complete an activity anytime during our open hours. To see what we offer, take a look at the Makerspace website or reach out to me at or your library liaison. We would love to collaborate and apply your course content with a hands-on project here in the Makerspace.