New York Library Association. - The eBulletin

Long Island LEADS

Submitted by Kristina Holzweiss, Long Island LEADS Founder

The maker movement is a movement of people, not of things.  The resurgence of STEAM education, hands-on learning, and “making” is spreading across the country in schools, libraries, and museums.  Makerspaces and maker programs are being established to promote critical thinking and problem solving, empathy, collaboration, communication, and a growth mindset.

On Long Island, a National School Board Association "20 to Watch" and NY former School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year Kristina Holzweiss has spearheaded a nonprofit organization Long Island LEADS.  A founding member of the Nation of Makers, the mission of Long Island LEADS is to learn, educate, advocate, develop, and support opportunities for STEAM education and the maker movement.  A founding member of the Nation of Makers “The future begins today,” Holzweiss says.  “We must prepare our children for the world of tomorrow, while respecting the past.  I learned as a young child from my immigrant grandparents that you did the best with what you had.  Coming to America my grandparents had to be very frugal and creative so that they could provide a brighter future for their family.”  In addition to authentic experiences to address AASL, ISTE, and content area standards other benefits of the maker movement are sustainability, entrepreneurship, and an improved local economy.

Through its monthly maker meetups and annual SLIME – Students of Long Island Maker Expo event Long Island LEADS offers opportunities for educators, librarians, museum directors, nonprofit organizations, parents, students, local companies, and community members to share ideas and resources.  “These are the only opportunities where all stakeholders are at the same table,” explains Kristina Holzweiss.  “There is always someone missing at traditional conferences and workshops.  But making is a collaboration, not a competition.  Together we can accomplish so much more.  Our organization is helping people to become more interconnected so they can develop meaningful relationships in today’s technological society.  Conversations need to include different voices.”
After two successful years hosted by Bay Shore Middle School, Kristina formed Long Island LEADS and rented a local museum to host their 3rd annual SLIME – Students of Long Island Maker Expo.  This year they anticipate 1,500 participants and 100 activities including panels and workshops.  “It was always my vision to create a forum to showcase libraries and the wonderful ways that they support the community,” says Kristina.  “This year we will have a number of panelists including librarians, educators, and companies.”  Schools, libraries, museums, civic associations, clubs, and nonprofit organizations are invited to participate at SLIME with complimentary tables.  Entrance fees to SLIME are nominal and are subsidized by generous sponsors.  
 In addition to their popular “Make and Donate” activities where participants support Habitat for Humanity and local animal shelters through making, this year they will host a “Kids Make a Difference” Charity Pitch Fest.  The winner will receive a donation in their name to their charity of choice provided by the Suffolk School Library Media Association, and a Barnes & Noble gift card from the Farrell Family.

To learn more about Long Island LEADS and to become a free member visit longislandleads.org.  You won’t want to miss this year’s 3rd annual SLIME on May 20th at the Cradle of Aviation in Garden City, NY.  Visit slimemakerexpo.com to see the list of sponsors, speakers, workshop leaders, and presenters.