SUNY Oswego will continue its emphasis on diversity and equality through the month of March, while providing opportunities for creativity, with Penfield Library’s annual Maker Madness event.

Maker Madness 2021 will take place online, across the entire month of March. 

Offering a variety of activities, Maker Madness is an annual celebration of International Women’s Day, helping bring awareness to important women throughout history, and helping to empower girls and women today.

“Clearly, women have contributed a huge amount to our society throughout history,” said Sarah Weisman, director of Penfield Library. “Often, their contributions have been overlooked or underrepresented… This is important to me, to make sure women are represented, are celebrated and really acknowledged for their contributions. I think the other piece of it is empowering young girls to feel like they can do anything they want to do.”

Penfield Library collaborates with the Zonta Club of Oswego for the event. Zonta is an international club, and a “leading global organization of professionals empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy,” according to their website. The Oswego Chapter of Zonta has collaborated with Penfield for Maker Madness for the past several years.

“Two to three years ago, [Zonta] approached us with interest in collaborating with us on Maker Madness,” said Weisman. “They were looking to pivot their annual celebration… to do more hands-on activities. There’s a number of Zonta Club members who are also SUNY Oswego employees, so they connected us. We were absolutely thrilled to then host Maker Madness here at Penfield Library.”

The event, which usually occurs on the first Saturday of March, has been extremely successful in the past; 183 people participated in the inaugural event in 2018, and that number grew to 474 for last year’s Maker Madness.

Going virtual

Typically, the event is on a set date, and in person, with a myriad of activities and guests appearing on campus. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Maker Madness will look much different.

The planning that goes into Maker Madness helped to allow a relatively easy transition.

“The planning for this really starts the year before,” Weisman said. “So with the pandemic edition, we really started thinking about it at the end of last year… I feel like overall, this was less work, because [in a regular year] there’s a lot of logistics involved in rallying all the different makers to come, and then logistical work that we have here on site… that we frankly did not have to deal with in the virtual environment.”

The event begins on March 8 with a trivia night at 7 p.m. Activities are open to the public, so anyone can assemble a team and compete in trivia for Maker Madness tokens.

The tokens will go towards a drawing for a free Chromebook, donated to the event by Trox Solutions. Participants will receive one token for each event they join, and winners of the trivia night will receive two additional tokens for each member of their team.

The month continues with opportunities for participation in a wide variety of events. At 3 p.m. on March 11, “Six-Word Memoirs” invites participants to collaborate with Penfield librarians to write and share a memoir consisting of six words celebrating admired women.

On March 15 at 4 p.m., Maker Madness will offer a virtual tour of the National Women’s History Museum. Titled “Taking a Stand, Part 1: The Beginnings of Women's Suffrage (1776-1882),” the program will “explore the early factors in the suffrage movement including key women such as Abigail Adams, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth and Susan B. Anthony,” per the event guide.

Some events involve multimedia as well, including a celebration of admired women where participants can submit photos or videos describing a woman they look up to. Participants can also choose from a list of films to view, and write about the women they encounter in the movie. 

Several pre-recorded presentations will detail the contributions of women toward the fields of math and science. They include presentations on the women that helped the United States win the Space Race in the 1950s and '60s, as well as the women who helped pioneer computer engineering and communication for the U.S. Army during World War II.

View the full list of Maker Madness events and resources online

Weisman recommended those who wish to participate to “sign up now for these events.” 

“We have arranged a lot of really different, fun events for people of all ages, all genders,” she said. “We just want people to come.”

-- Written by Dylan McGlynn, Class of 2021