Joe Spanier is one of the co-founders of River City Labs — a Peoria makerspace. He’s also a co-founder of Midwest Maker Fest, a previous employee at Aleph Objects (the company that makes Lulzbot printers), and Caterpillar. Joe and I have a wide-ranging talk about tech in education, his enthusiasm for making and tinkering, and more.

A note: The audio for this interview may be off in parts. The recording software that I use had some issues synching audio up, and so this was done manually.


Sasha Neri runs the Harold Washington Library Maker Lab in the Loop of Chicago, Illinois and runs Chicago’s yearly Maker Summit. This is the fourth and final part of our educational makerspaces series, and I’m happy to have Sasha on to talk about how makerspaces work in a library setting, and the benefits they have for the broader community of patrons that libraries serve.

Terry Steinbach is an Associate Dean in the College of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University, and Betty Shanahan is the Associate Vice President of DePaul University. Both have been instrumental in building makerspaces and spreading maker-centered learning at DePaul University, and come on the show this week to talk about how to make a makerspace work in higher ed. This is the second part in a series of interviews about makerspaces in education.

Aaron Hoover is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Olin College and one of the founders of the Higher Education Makerspaces Initiative and the International Symposium on Academic Makerspaces. In this episode, Aaron and I discuss the state of maker education in higher education including the challenges and opportunities that educators face in this context. This interview is the first part in a series of interviews about makerspaces in education.

In this session I talk with Helen Leigh. Helen is an author, education writer, and maker with a focus on creative use of new technologies. She has written playful technology education materials for National Geographic and Intel Education, and has developed a Design, Coding, and Electronics Course for the Royal Court of Oman.

Alongside her writing, Helen makes creative technology products with a focus on education, including her latest collaboration with Imogen Heap, MI.MU, and Pimoroni, a gesture-controlled musical instrument glove that you can sew, wire, code, and play. To see some of the things Helen has made and find out more about some of the projects she has worked on, visit her Twitter, @helenleigh.

Helen lectures on electronics, physical computing, and music technology at Ravensbourne University and Tileyard Studios in London. She was previously director of the education platform Mission:Explore, with whom she published six acclaimed children’s books.

Helen lives in Berlin but is often found in London. You can say hello, ask questions, or show off your DIY electronics on Twitter (@helenleigh), on YouTube (HelenLeigh), or on Instagram (@helenleigh_makes).

Show Notes: