Seward Middle School (SMS) received a $1,000 mini-grant and a $3,495 competitive grant to create a Maker Lab at their school. According to science teacher Carlyn Nichols, they have re-purposed their woodshop/art room at SMS and turned it into a Maker Lab. Her favorite definition of a Maker Space comes from Diana Redina, a revered resource in the field, “A makerspace is a place where students can gather to create, invent, tinker, explore, and discover using a variety of tools and materials.” The lab will house everything from robots and power tools, to green screens and sewing machines. To date, they have purchased soldering irons, robotic equipment, basic hand/power tools, and materials for creative projects with more equipment and supplies to be purchased next semester.
The lab has already become home to the Gifted and Talented Program and Student Leadership Team at SMS. Last spring, SMS hosted their first Maker Exploratory class. This school year it will be expanded to twice a year offerings, with weekly after school hours with the hopes of hosting robotics/coding clubs in the future. One day, they would also like to be able to open their doors to other visiting classes/schools and develop some mentoring programs with Seward Elementary and Connections. The vision is to create a space where kids can learn to innovate, create, experiment, and explore safely and competently. Maker labs are a highly effective means of teaching students 21st century skills, helping to ensure gainful employment and fulfilling lives.
Funding for these grants came from the Seward Community Foundation Unrestricted Fund.