Category “Uncategorized”

Train Training – A Tumblr of People Running from Trains

For about the last year I’ve Instagrammed the bizarre phenomena of people running from the train. After a friend of mine mentioned that the recordings resembled some of the ones you’d find on a weird niche blog, I decided to spin up a Tumblr where people could find all the posts in one place. I call it Train Training.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

This Should Work Session 5 – Changing Kids Edu Toys, Building Museum Exhibits, and Making with Rachel Hellenga

I really enjoyed talking with Rachel. She has deep experience in designing spaces, experiences, and exercise that advance STEAM learning and making, and deeply cares about approaching education for kids the right way. Hope you enjoy.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Chicago Makers Resources

I started to compile a list of different makerspaces, links, books, and other community resources for makers in Chicago (inspired by Chicago Makes Games). If you have any additional information that’s missing (of which I’m sure there’s a lot!) please reach out, and I’ll make sure to get it added on.

You can check out the list of resources here.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

This Should Work Session 4 – “And They Learned Things, So That Was Good”

Really enjoyed this interview with my old friend Andrew Morrison. Andrew is a physicist, maker, and community leader. His work with steelpan drums and the physics of music are absolutely fascinating, and his passion for the maker community is clear to anyone listening. Enjoy.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Idea Realization Lab Summer Updates

With Summer officially over at the IRL, it’s time to review what we’ve done, where we’re headed, and the status of the space and our community. Here’s the IRL Summer Report.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Technology Can’t Fix Education

Improving Tech Education Doesn’t Start with Tech

Technology might not, this time, be the main source of disruption. This is because education, which is arguably one of our society’s most important industries, might be different: It’s about working with people.

The implicit shock in the first sentence of this quote is astounding, as if it’s saying “wait, technology can’t solve everything?” As a husband to an educator — a real one, who went to get her degree in education, then onto her Master’s, and so on — it’s always surprised me how tech people and, well, everybody really, assumes they can do better than a person who’s been trained to teach.

But this doesn’t just apply to education, does it? There are a lot of fields out there that deal with “working with people,” yet we presume technology can disrupt them, or that a technologist untrained in the field can somehow bring better ideas to the table. Look no further than the bevy of useless STEM and STEAM toys, kits, and curricula which purport to educate when in fact they do nothing of the sort.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

ASTC 2018 Speaking Engagement

I’ll be speaking at the Association of Science – Technology Centers in early October. Reach out and let me know if you’ll be there, too! Here’s a preview:

Making Makerspaces: Developing a Positive Community, Culture, and Traditions

Makerspaces are not about the tools within them; they’re the community of people within them and the hands-on learning that they foster. This session will discuss the development of makerspaces within larger institutions from the standpoint of community, inclusiveness, and encouraging self-efficacy.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Makerspaces in Higher Education

Here’s an event I’ll be speaking at that anyone’s invited to come out and enjoy:

Join the staff and class of LSP 111: The Maker Movement in Chicago for a talk and discussion with Prof. Jay Margalus on the topic of Makerspaces in Higher Education.

Jay is a computer scientist and designer with a focus in emerging tech. He is the Faculty Director at DePaul University’s Idea Realization Lab, and teaches in DePaul’s School of Design. He has been making makerspaces for over a decade in and around Chicago, and literally wrote the certification on making for Caterpillar, Inc. He makes the custom hardware games Thotcon 0x9Thotcon 0x8, and Big Data Outbreak. You can read about him in the Chicago Tribune or see see his recent talks and keynotes for Crowdsupply’s: Teardown, the American Medical Association and Chicago Public Schools.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

An Interview with Jenn Lawhead

Session 3 of This Should Work is up, and it’s a fun one! I interview Jenn Lawhead, former Head Lab Moderator of the Idea Realization Lab at DePaul University, and current employee at Dremel Brand. Jenn talks about her work at Dremel, as well as her thoughts on bringing students up through the making mindset at the Idea Realization Lab, and more. Check it out!

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Play and Making

The way we look at the world is colored by the things we’re interested in. To understand something new, or to develop a point of view on something, we call in experiences and preconceptions to guide us. We synthesize information from one context to inform another, and in doing so, bring seemingly disparate ideas together.

The experiences that I often find myself synthesizing are those of making and play. Both of these things have been deeply important to my work over the last decade as a game developer and designer, as well as a designer and maker of physical things.

Making is an activity of exploration. You work with the material, and speak through the material, in order to arrive at some ultimate creation that becomes. When I craft, or build a circuit board, the outcome of that activity is as much informed by the limitations of the physical world, and the materials that I’m working with, as it is my initial concept.

Play is unbounded exploration in many ways, too. Play is like game, but with mutable rules and boundaries. One does not, for instance, game house… you play house! The rules change on the fly, we make them up. We challenge assumptions of how one might go about doing the thing and, in that act, improvise. Play is also a critical evolutionary tool that can be observed not only in humans, but many other species of animals to learn to hunt, organize together, and overcome obstacles. Play is a significant part of the way we learn to interact with each other , understand the world around us, and reflect on ourselves.

Making to me, then, is an activity of play. Just like play it is exploring while challenging boundaries and being open to ever-changing rules; it is learning through action and doing; it is a critical and deeply natural form of human existence. And more than that, if making is play, then it is a way of Understanding.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus