Google cardboard photosphere of the Lillian Marrero Library, where Maker Jawn is headquartered.


Hello YOUmedia Network! We’re the Maker Jawn Initiative, proudly representing Philadelphia.

Some of you may be wondering, what’s a “jawn?” The term “jawn” is a context-dependent substitute noun that originated in the Philly hip hop scene. Jawn is used in place of basically any noun, and its meaning can change depending on what you're referring to, e.g., “Let me get a piece of that jawn.”

We are a team of artists, engineers, designers, and thinkers who work in libraries. Maker Jawn experiments with creating replicable, scalable spaces and programs that prioritize the creativity, cultural heritage, and interests of diverse communities, embedded directly within the fabric of the library. We expose youth to tools and materials, and encourage them to engage in playing and tinkering, with their peers, alone, and with Mentors (members of the Maker Jawn team). Creativity is always the priority. The goal is not only to embrace technology, crafts, fine art, and low-cost, recycled materials, but to cultivate a nimble perspective towards problem solving, and identifying cool solutions and interventions that may not be immediately obvious.

We strongly believe that with an enthusiastic and forward thinking staff, any library or institution can incorporate “maker” into their programming regardless of financial limitations. No big ticket tech needed.

We work in several libraries in North Philadelphia, with a presence at the downtown Central Library and Paschalville Branch in Southwest Philadelphia.

Visit to read our blog, and find resources and curriculum.

We wanted to use this site spotlight on the CoP to share some curriculum we’ve written, as well as some recent highlights. Enjoy!   


The Maker Mentors have been creating curriculum based on activities that work well at our program sites. Most of the curriculum aims to introduce skills that participants can go on to use for self-directed projects. The materials are generally low cost, and easily accessible. Check it out here!

Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby

Maker Jawn’s heart beats in North Philadelphia, a neighborhood that we love. To represent our neighborhood, and The Free Library of Philadelphia, we took to the streets in our little literacy-mobile for the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby. The Kinetic Sculpture Derby is a decade old tradition, where weirdos, makers, and creatives of all kinds create “kinetic sculptures” to parade around the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. We worked with youth in several neighborhood libraries to create the sculpture, and received some very generous assistance with the bike build from custom cargo trike maker Stephen Horcha. Horcha’s Haley Trikes is a friend to libraries all over the country. Check out his book trikes! Pima County has one!      


Mentors Hannah, Bobby, Gavin on Derby Day                                                   Mentor Goda in a paper mache Wilbur helmet, made at the Kensington Branch

Yorlanee wearing her paper mache bunny hat     1 of 3 paper mache books featured on the sculpture, in progress at Lillian Marrero             

after she finished painting it. You can see Gavin

wearing it in the photo above!

Dispatches From Our Neighborhood Libraries

Since Maker Jawn works in several community libraries, we thought it would be appropriate for a few of our Mentors to give a dispatch from their site.

Goda at Widener:

While participants use the tools and materials in our space for a wide range of individual projects such as making a space volcano out of homemade clay for a science class project, patching up holes in their backpacks, or building architectural models, we also put a lot of emphasis on collaborative projects.

Last spring we built a hay bale garden and grew sunflowers and pumpkins. Using everything we learned from that experience this year we built a larger garden and planted things like purple carrots, yellow tomatoes, rainbow chard, colorful glass gem corn, moon and stars watermelon, and peas. Before we planted edible plants, we collected a soil sample and got it tested for lead content to make sure that what we grow will be safe to eat. Some kids took leftover seeds home to plant with their families.

Another long term group project we have been working on is a gangster science fiction drama film called Godbrothers. One of our program participants wrote a script and created an elaborate storyboard for this project. Others have joined in the project by building props, sewing costumes, learning how to use video equipment and editing software, and of course by acting in the production.

Bobby at Central:

This is a not-so-high-quality of Donald that really captures his enthusiasm for and engagement with Maker programming. Donald is a teen that is very interested in Yu-Gi-Oh, video games, and game design. I worked on lots of cool projects with Donald, like his basketball board game and video game commentary. In the picture, Donald is putting the finishing touches on a visual essay he created as part of his application for a scholarship to Saturday art classes at University of the Arts. While I really enjoyed working on projects with Donald within the library, even more meaningful were the connections I fostered outside of the library. In addition to receiving a full scholarship to the Saturday art classes, I was able to connect Donald with outside Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments as well as Philly Dev Night, a game developer meetup hosted by a local game design firm. At Philly Dev night, Donald was able to further understand that video games were not just something to play and consume, but something that were made and designed by people; that he could make and create video games too

Gavin at Cecil B. Moore:

The makers of Cecil B. Moore recently got a MIDI keyboard and figured out how to work the sampler in Garageband. Kids have been working with samples from their favorite songs (like this mashup of Drake and Jason Derulo made by Talib), and samples of recordings of their own voice (like this crazy-sounding club track Sammy and I collaborated on).

We've also been designing our own sampler controllers with

the Makey Makey, paper, and pencil

Lauren at Ramonita de Rodriguez:

I would like to highlight the zine library at RGR. You can find a lesson plan for making One Page Zines, along with some great pictures of our maker made zine collection here.