Week 2 — Encourage & Inspire

What is a facilitator's critical role in setting the context for a workshop? What goes into preparing examples, designing the learning environment, and deciding on open-ended, evocative prompts that widen the space for learners to imagine?

Week 2 Quick To-Do List

Nothing is mandatory, but you'll get out of the course what you put in!

Share your thinking & making—and continue to learn from your peers—on the PLIX Forum.
Join the Community Gathering, Tuesday at 12 noon ET (UTC-4).
Read the PLIX Scratch+micro:bit activity and prompt.
Create a Scratch+micro:bit project—perhaps during the Make'n'Meet on Thursday at 3pm ET (UTC-4)—and post a picture to the PLIX Forum and/or our Scratch studio.
Read the articles about encouraging & inspiring, listed in Things to Think With (Reading, Listening) below.

Miss a session? No worries. You'll be able to find Zoom recordings of our Community Gatherings and Make'n'Meets on the PLIX Forum.

Conversation Starters

Katherine McConachie, co-founder of PLIX, chats with Luigi Anzivino of The Tinkering Studio of the Exploratorium, the museum of art, science, and human perception about designing activities and the learning environment. Listen in! (Time 44:00)

Week 2: Luigi & Katherine PLIX Conversation Starter

Featured Facilitation Techniques

PLIX has seven facilitation techniques, and this week we highlight two of them.


🌀  Frame activities to encourage creative possibilities When coming up with an activity prompt, try using a theme (e.g. “enchanted garden”) instead of an end product (e.g. “make a frog”). This will leave room for patrons to integrate their own ideas and passions into the activity.


🎨  Curate a set of diverse example projects to inspire patrons Have example projects readily available to your patrons during workshops. Your examples should showcase a variety of approaches and shouldn’t be overly complete or complex. A good example shouldn’t encourage direct copying, but should be used as a jumping off point to inspire a participant to tinker with their own ideas. Good examples can also help with troubleshooting and questions, so don’t be afraid to refer someone to an example (or a peer’s project) if they’re stuck!

Things to Think With (Reading, Listening)

We've identified some readings that relate to the themes of the week. Read as much as you have time to read and head over to the PLIX Forum to share your thoughts.

Recommended Core Reading / Listening


"Tinkering and the Art of the Perfect Example" by Luigi Anzivino on The Tinkering Studio blog (2019, ~4 pages) Luigi is our guest in our audio-only PLIX Conversation Starter and the live Q&A in the Community Gathering this week, and this gives a few examples in depth.


Lifelong Kindergarten book excerpt by Mitchel Resnick (2017, 3–7 pages) If you are in a hurry, focus on the 3-page section "Wide Walls"

PLIX Activity Repository Spotlight


Scratch+micro:bit by the PLIX Team in collaboration with Kreg Hanning (2020, 6 pages) As you read through the activity, think about how you'd apply this week's facilitation techniques. How do the tools (Scratch + micro:bit) allow you to frame activities to encourage creative possibilities? How might you curate a set of diverse example projects to inspire patrons? How does this activity exhibit "low floors, high ceilings, and wide walls"

Intergalactic Garden

Deeper Dive Reading (Optional)

  • "Getting Started with Creative Learning in your Public Library" by the PLIX Team (2019, ~4 pages) This blog post talks about some of our thinking behind our PLIX kits. The two we highlight happen to be our spotlighted PLIX activities this week and next: Scratch + micro:bit and Paper Circuits!
  • Oh the places we’ll go! [Part 1] Rethinking education in the digital ageby Edith K. Ackermann (2013, 1–9 pages) This article on Child Research Net covers a lot of ground and is a bit technical, but we think you'll like the seven principles shared in the “Guidelines for the design of educational settings” on page 8.
  • Great Creative Learning Environment Descriptions (also optional!)
    • MAKESHOP described by Ricarose Roque on pages 18–19 of her thesis (2016, 1 page)
    • Origins and Guiding Principles of the Computer Clubhouse by Natalie Rusk, Mitchel Resnick, and Stina Cooke in The Computer Clubhouse: Constructionism and Creativity in Youth Communities. Teachers College Press, edited by Yasmin Kafai (2009, 7 pages)
  • Week 2 Community Gathering Slides For reference if you want to go back and see what we shared in the Zoom meeting.

Things to Make With (Materials)

While the activity as we have created it requires a micro:bit, you can create an interactive Scratch project without one. At a minimum, make sure you have a Scratch account installed and ready to go for the Make'n'Meet.

Note: Next week's Paper Circuits activity uses uncommon materials you'll want to order now to make sure you have your materials in time.



Scratch account Scratch was designed to be an open environment and community for learning to code. If you're new to it, set up your account before our Week 2 Make & Meet. Get your account at scratch.mit.edu. Free.

Strongly recommended


BBC micro:bit (and components) These microprocessors are in short supply so you will be lucky to find them! We've reserved some at Jameco → and you need to buy 3 more pieces to be able to use it. If you find a source that sells the "micro:bit go kit", these three other components are included:

  • AAA or AA battery pack to power micro:bit
  • AAA or AA batteries
  • cable to connect micro:bit