ISTE 2016: Denver Adventures, Presentations and More

ISTE 2016- Denver Adventures, Makerspaces, Presentations and More : ISTE 2016 in Denver was an amazing, wonderful whirlwind of activity.  In this post, I give a day-by-day breakdown of my adventures, makerspaces I visited, presentations and more.

ISTE 2016, Denver, Colorado

Last week, I was in Denver for the International Society for Technology in Education conference.  This was my third ISTE conference, and like the other two in Atlanta and Philadelphia, it was amazing and exhausting.  It’s taken me a few days to get my energy back and write this post.  I wanted to share all of the awesomeness of this trip, as there were SO many fantastic things that happened.  To keep things easy (and chronological) I’m breaking it down to a day-by-day synopsis, focusing mostly on the conference and cool maker related stuff.  If you’d like to see ALL my pictures from the trip, check out my Flickr album.

The Denver Art Museum encourages patrons to interact with the art

The Denver Art Museum encourages patrons to interact with the art

Friday, June 24th, Denver Art Museum

The conference technically hadn’t started yet on this day, but that didn’t stop my from exploring some of Denver’s sites.  The big highlight for me was visiting the Denver Art Museum.  Exploring the architecture alone is worth the visit, but the museum also has some great collections.  One of my favorite things in this museum was the way that it encouraged patrons to interact with the art.  In one exhibit, select paintings had small vials on the side of them; visitors could drop colored beads into these vials to represent the various emotions that the paintings made them feel.

Mini makerspace in Denver Art Museum

Mini makerspace in Denver Art Museum

Another aspect of the museum that I loved were these mini makerspaces scattered throughout the space.  They encouraged guests to think like designers and artists and offered passive design challenges.

ISTE Mobile Megashare

ISTE Mobile Megashare

Saturday, June 25th, Mobile Megashare

The Mobile Learning Network’s Mobile Megashare was the event that led me to arriving early at ISTE this year, and it did not disappoint.  It ran from 2-6 and consisted of four hour long sessions.  Last year I just attended, but this year I led sessions on design challenges in makerspaces.  We had lots of fun learning how to get students to work through the design process and building phone stands.  My slides and resources can be found on my presentations page.

BLDG 61: Boulder Public Library's Makerspace

BLDG 61: Boulder Public Library’s Makerspace

Sunday, June 26th, Boulder Public Library BLDG61 and Sparkfun Tour

Ahead of the conference, my friend and co-author Colleen Graves arranged for a tour of the Boulder Public Library Makerspace, BLDG 61 and the Sparkfun headquarters for a small group of educators.

BLDG 61 was one of my favorite public library makerspaces that I’ve visited so far.  The space was kind of hidden away, but once you get to it, it’s fantastic.  It consists of three sunlit rooms in the 1961 portion of the library with a variety of maker tools, from laser cutters to weaving looms to vintage sewing machines.  There were several programs going on when we visited, including one where patrons brought in broken lamps and learned how to fix them.

Sparkfun Headquarters

Sparkfun Headquarters

Sparkfun’s headquarters was an amazing place to visit.  This company has an amazing culture, a vibrant, flexible workspace and a culture of playfulness.  There were all kinds of cool gadgets and creations throughout the space and you really got a sense of the individualism of the company as every workspace was very personalized, including offices with astroturf and hammocks and plenty of dog beds.

ISTE Librarian's Playground

ISTE Librarian’s Playground

Monday, June 27th, ISTELib Playground, ISTE Awards, Girls in STEM, littleBits

Monday was the first full day of ISTE, and I definitely felt the increase busyness.  It started off with the Librarian’s Network Playground in the morning.  This is always a fun, chaotic event and it’s a great chance to catch up with friends and meet tweeps in real life.  I was originally going to present on design challenges in makerspaces, but I had so many questions about my makerspace itself that I switched gears and did part of my presentation from AASL instead.  Sometimes you have to be flexible and figure out what your audience needs right then 🙂

ISTE Awards Luncheon

ISTE Awards Luncheon

Later that day, I was honored to attend the ISTE Awards Luncheon, where I was presented with the Outstanding Young Educator Award.  This was a wonderful event and ISTE did an amazing job recognizing the award winners throughout the conference.

Girls in STEM

Girls in STEM

In the afternoon, I presented with Colleen Graves and Beverly Ball on engaging Girls in STEM.  This was a Snapshot session, which meant that we only had thirty minutes to get everything in.  It was a challenge, as there’s so much I’d like to say on this topic (posts in the works).  It was a lot of fun and I’m glad we were able to get some great conversations started as a result.

littleBits party & fun

littleBits party & fun

Monday night, littleBits held an awesome party.  I was super excited to meet Ayah Bedir, creator of littleBits.  I also got to meet a bunch of other awesome bitsters that I’d only known through the internet before.  I volunteered at their booth on Tuesday and had a great time sharing about how we use littleBits in our makerspace.

Amazon Maker Challenge

Amazon Maker Challenge

Tuesday, June 28th, Amazon Maker Challenge

Tuesday brought a new event: the Amazon Maker Challenge.  I was invited to participate in this event by Nicholas Provenzano (aka the Nerdy Teacher).  Five maker teams had to work to devise a solution to the challenge: make something that makes a classroom procedure easier.  My partner and I worked together to create the Maker Star Photobooth.  We used a MaKeyMaKey to trigger the Apple Photobooth app so that students could easily take pictures of their finished maker projects.  We then set up a littleBits “fireworks machine”.  When you push the button, it sets off a buzzer, bargraph and a DC motor with pipe cleaners attached to represent the fireworks, celebrating the awesomeness of your creation.  This event was seriously fun.

The Knights of Make-a-Lot

The Knights of Make-a-Lot

Wednesday, June 29th, Knights-of-Make-a-lot

On the last day of ISTE, I presented as part of the Knights of Make-a-lot, which included Nathan Stevens and Colleen Graves.  This was my first time being part of a recorded session, which is a bit intimidating.  The session was a ton of fun, and we covered all sorts of maker ground, from affordable makerspace materials to how makerspaces are like the TARDIS (they’re bigger on the inside).  And yes, we threw Tinkercad shirts out to an enthusiastic crowd at the end 🙂

Want even more?  Check out my sketchnotes below, and visit my Flickr to see ALL my photos, plus some screenshots from Twitter.

My Sketchnotes from sessions:

My Sketchnotes from Heather Lister's session on Inclusive Library Spaces

My Sketchnotes from Heather Lister’s session on Inclusive Library Spaces

My sketchnotes on Pernille Ripp's session on Creating Passionate Literacy Environments through Personalized Learning

My sketchnotes on Pernille Ripp’s session on Creating Passionate Literacy Environments through Personalized Learning


Diana Rendina, MLIS, is the media specialist at Tampa Preparatory School, an independent 6-12 in Tampa, FL. Previously, she was the media specialist at Stewart Middle Magnet School for seven years, where she founded their library makerspace. She is the creator of the blog RenovatedLearning.com & is also a monthly contributor to AASL Knowledge Quest. Diana is the winner of the 2016 ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award, the 2015 ISTE Librarians Network Secondary Award, the 2015 AASL Frances Henne Award & the 2015 SLJ Build Something Bold Award. She is an international speaker on the Maker Movement and has presented at conferences including AASL, FETC & ISTE. Diana co-authored Challenge-Based Learning in the School Library Makerspace with Colleen and Aaron Graves and is also the author Reimagining Library Spaces: Transform Your Space on Any Budget.