Ozobots, 3-D printers, 3Doodler pens, Dash and Dot robots, Puzzlets, Cubelets, Bee Bots, Code-a-Pillar and Makey Makey, these are some of the high-tech, age-appropriate gizmos kids at Kelley, Lincoln and Perkins schools can now use to create and/or solve problems in new MakerSpaces, all while working independently.
Mark Miller, director of grants service and special programs for Newark Central School District, obtained four $5,000 grants in 2017 from Lowe’s Home Improvement that were used to purchase these items that are intended to stoke students’ imaginations and learning in the areas of math, science and technology.
The fifth grant will be used to create a MakerSpace at Newark Middle School later this spring. The current spaces were unveiled through recent launches at libraries in Perkins, Lincoln and Kelley schools.
The Kelley School launch was attended by 24 students, 10 staff members and administrators and 20 adults.
“So many students were engaged with the new technology, learning how to use the equipment and having so much fun,” said Michele DeYulio, secretary of Kelley School PTA. “It was great to see all of the smiling faces and creations that the students made in just a few minutes.”
Miller said he was pleased with the response from students, parents and staff that attended.
“Our launch at Kelley exceeded all of our expectations,” he said. “Sometimes it is hard to explain to parents and teachers what exactly a MakerSpace is until you see it in action. Anyone in the library could instantaneously see the value in this project. No one had to explain or teach the students what to do or how to do it. They immediately immersed themselves with the tools and materials and taught themselves. Using only curiosity, ingenuity and creativity the library was soon filled with the sounds of students making music, discussing computer coding and designing 3-D printer objects. We sometimes assume that we need to ‘teach’ engineering to our children. What we forget is that the human brain is hardwired to engineer our environment using the tools around us. What MakerSpace does is enable our children to access this part of their minds in new, creative and wholly student centered ways.”
Fifth-graders Loretta Hobart and Mikalya Miller enjoyed making music using the Makey Makey invention kit at the Kelley MakerSpace launch.
“This is really cool,’’ Hobart said.
“I liked that you could play piano without all the notes,’’ Miller said.
“It’s customizable,’’ Hobart said.
Fourth-grader Brooklyn Cleaves, who found herself writing code to move the Wonder Dash Robot, was all smiles.
“I’m programming how it moves — it’s easy,’’ said Cleaves, who won the 8-inch Amazon Fire Tablet raffle.
“We’ve now created spaces where young people are encouraged to become innovators,’’ Miller said. “It’s self-directed. Students can come in the space, sit down and create or solve problems at their own pace. It’s a place where young people can explore their interests, both physical and virtual, and explore using science and technology toward engineering. We’re asking kids to be Edisons.”
Aaron Sweet, NCSD integration technology coach, set up the MakerSpaces in each of the schools. Promotional assistance was provided by Julia Rodriguez, NCSD family outreach coordinator.
“I think that the event went very well,” Rodriguez said. “We had a great turnout with many families. The kids loved all of the items that were purchased through the Lowe’s grant. Many of them were mesmerized by the 3-D printer and 3-D pens. It’s a great space for these students to be able to use their imagination to create, make and build anything they want. We are so happy to have this space at Perkins, Lincoln and Kelley and now moving on up to our middle school. It was a very exciting and fun night, and I’m happy we had a great turnout to show families and students this opportunity.“