" MakerNook – Michael Darfler
Michael Darfler

Personal website of Michael Darfler


An exploration of distributed Making
2018 | Wynnewood, PA

Principal | Phil Holcombe and Michael Darfler
Role | Design and research

As you walk through the halls on the second floor of the Middle School, you may notice a bustle of activity in what was, six months ago, a forgotten storage closet. A room once filled with unused chairs and old reams of paper has been transformed into the newest space for student learning on campus. Friends’ Central School’s brand new MakerNook is a mini-makerspace designed by and for middle school students to provide access to tools, supplies, and space for hands-on learning.

“Questions set us on quests, which often help us find our better selves and shine our Light” - Garreth Heidt

Together we Build

How do we move beyond consumption and towards creativity? Quakers have used Queries as tools for offering spiritual challenges to the community for much of their history. With the MakerNook we hope to elevate our school community and reach beyond our walls.

  • Equity - How are we ensuring that everyone as what they need to be successful?
  • Creativity - How are we contributing positively to the conversation and acknowledging others’ voices?
  • Agency - How are we empowering everyone to be leaders?
  • Authenticity - How are we making work that is meaningful and reflective of the world around us?
  • Joy - How are we letting our Light shine?

Seeds of an idea

The idea for the MakerNook was born of a need to create more opportunities for Making specifically for Middle School Students. “Hands-on learning is such a fundamental part of the Middle School experience,” remarked City Ave MakerSpace Director, Michael Darfler. “Creating a new space for the Middle School was such a natural fit.”

By starting with open ended questions we were able to start a conversation with the school around the vision and mission of the MakerNook. Students, faculty, and staff were involved in every part of the process from brainstorming to problem solving, from design to fabrication. Phil Holcombe of PlusUs reflected, “It’s rare to see such thoughtful inclusion of all of the stakeholders; this is what good design looks like.”

“It’s rare to see such thoughtful inclusion of all of the stakeholders; this is what good design looks like.” -Phil Holcombe

Out with the old and in with the new

With plans finalized it was time to get dirty. A team of master builders from FCS’s physical plant team were instrumental in the creation of the MakerNook. Throughout the process their attention to detail and dedication made all the difference. Students from the middle school community also had a chance to get involved with demolition and construction.

Opening with a smile

Since it’s opening in March of 2018, the MakerNook has become a fixture of creativity in the middle school. Every single day, students and teachers share, create, learn, and explore with the help of the Nook. While the measurements of success are myriad, it’s their smiles that means the most.