The Ridgefield Library has announced its new Maker-in-Residence initiative and its first Maker-in-Residence, Alex Gonzalez, a virtual reality filmmaker and educator, who will present hands-on classes for all ages starting at the end of February.  

Programs will include a four-week class called Making Magic from Scratch for children in grades 2 through 5. This will be a comprehensive introductory course and workshop that will acquaint students with the world of computer programming, through a friendly and fun experience. Classes take place on four consecutive Wednesdays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., starting Feb. 28.

For those in grades 6 and up Gonzalez will give an intensive eight-week class called Immersive Storytelling: Virtual Worlds, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, Feb. 28, March 7, 14, 21, 28, April 4 and Tuesdays, April 17 and 24. Using professional-grade animation software, students will develop their own original immersive universe in which they can explore using VR headsets.

Gonzalez will also work with the library’s Adult Maker Group on their ongoing Virtual Reality projects. A showcase event for all ages will take place on Saturday, May 5 starting at 2 p.m.

Alex Gonzalez is a writer, filmmaker and Virtual Reality developer. He travels to schools across the tristate area and teaches students how to get started in VR, including how to brainstorm, code, and rapidly iterate ideas into practice. With a primary focus on storytelling, Alex has led dozens of students from imagination to project completion. He is the founder of New Haven VR Developer Group and his debut VR film Beyond the Mountain premiered last year at Jacob Burns Film Center and was the first VR film to be accepted into the Middlebury Film Festival.

The Maker-in-Residence initiative is made possible thanks to the Wadsworth Russell Lewis Fund and is part of the library’s ongoing Making STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) series. Over the next year the library will engage a number of practitioners in specific Maker and STEAM disciplines who will implement a range of activities for all ages over the course of several months for a more intensive exploration of their field.

Space is limited for these classes so only register if your child can attend all sessions. For more information and to register visit ridgefieldlibrary.org or call 203-438-2282.