Brainstorming with Jimmy DiResta

This is an open letter to Jimmy DiResta, he is one of my maker heroes. Check out his channel on YouTube and check out his podcast

Dear Jimmy,

I name dropped you in a tweet but didn’t expect you to respond so thank you. Anyways, here is the story.

My school is one of 10 prize winners of the CTE Makeover Challenge. It was announced at the White House on Friday, a big deal, $20K in cash plus a prize pool of hardware, equipment and consulting from tech and maker companies. We are expected to do a quick buildout over the summer and have a video ready for World Maker Faire NY.

As I was thinking about everything we have to do, I was looking over the list of consultants and wondering which would be useful. I kept thinking that the thing that would be the most helpful is a day brainstorming and building with Jimmy DiResta.

I listen to the podcast and was just imaging parts of the conversation and questions that would come up.


Jimmy: “So what are you trying to do?”

I’m trying to turn an old career and tech ed classroom into a makerspace. This room was setup for computer based modules where the kids would watch videos for most of the class, push some buttons on an “industrial” simulator and then answer some computerized multiple choice questions before moving to the next module. All those simulators have been moved out and we are going to put in digital fabrication tools and maker gear. We also want to create maker carts so that teachers can roll them in and do projects right in their regular classroom.

Jimmy: “Right on. What do you need me for?”

I need someone to help brainstorm the buildout and then help fabricate the maker carts.

Jimmy: “I’m pretty busy but ask your questions and I might have some ideas.”

  • The room looks like every other classroom in the school, same wall color, same tile floor, same counter. What can I do to the room to make it pop and really stand out to kids as a creative space that is different than their regular classroom?
  • We got a bunch of solid table but we want to be able to move them around easily to use in different configurations as desks and work tables. Slider or casters? How do we make them easy to move but then stable enough to use as a work table?
  • We have a regular wood shop in addition to the makerspace. What tools and processes should we have in the makerspace and what should we leave in the wood shop?
  • We want to build these maker carts that we can wheel into the classroom, maybe 2.5′ x2.5′ footprint. Want students to be able to open up these carts and see all the tools and materials easily and be able to quickly retrieve things. Want teacher to be easily see that everything has been returned. I’m working on getting a bunch of heavy duty aluminum extrusion donated and was thinking about covering framework of extrusion in 1/2″ plywood. Can you help me sketch out some designs?
  • Then many more questions that would come up in the natural flow of conversation.

I’ll be in upstate New York the last two weeks of July, maybe we could meetup?

Jimmy: “I’m pretty sure I’m out of town. Why don’t you send me an email and wait for my reply.”

Thanks Jimmy. Have a good one!

Jimmy: “You too!”


Anyways, that was where that tweet was coming from.

All the best,

DMH_CTE_SpaceDMH_CTE_Makeover_Maker_CartScreen Shot 2016-06-09 at 9.15.26 PM