The makerspace at Academy at Palumbo
Klint Kanopka, a physics teacher at Academy at Palumbo, a magnet school in Philadelphia, has always learned best by doing. In his classroom, he has his students build and design things in order to learn different concepts.
“My goal has always been to make it [physics] accessible and applicable to what people actually do in their lives,” Kanopka said. When Kanopka discovered that other teachers were making dedicated “makerspaces,” he knew he wanted to build one for his students.
“I saw some other schools putting together dedicated spaces for this sort of activity and for this sort of learning,” Kanopka said. “And I said ‘I would really love if we had a space like that.'”
The Makerspace at Academy of Palumbo
The science department at Academy of Palumbo gave Kanopka use of a room near his classroom that his students helped to re-purpose for the makerspace. Kanopka also ran a Donor’s Choose campaign to raise funds for a 3D printer to use in the space.
He raised the $2,000 to purchase the printer in nine days.
This success inspired Kanopka to try another crowdfunding campaign to purchase tools, including dremels, wrenches and safety goggles. He reached his goal on April 17.
Students have helped build the space by cleaning, repainting lockers to hold tools, and painting a wall with magnetic primer and chalkboard paint.
Kanopka now runs seminars in the space which usually involve around 10 kids. About 10-15 kids use the space after school to work on projects, and his physics classes use the space as well.
The Maker Bot 3D printer at Academy of Palumbo
Chester A. Arthur’s Makerspace
Michael Franklin, STEAM coordinator at the Chester A. Arthur Elementary School, said the idea of a makerspace came up in a discussion about the school’s STEAM program (STEM + the arts). After a little bit of research, he decided a makerspace would be the best way to tie the arts into STEM, especially with younger kids.
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Similar to Kanopka, Franklin is running a Donor’s Choose campaign to help raise funds for his makerspace. He previously raised over $4,000 using crowdfunding campaigns with some help from the Friends of Chester Arthur. So far, he’s raised over $1,300 of the goal in just three weeks.
“My goal is to create a space where students are given the knowledge, the tools and the supplies to come in and create whatever they want,” Franklin said. “Whether we like it or not, STEM is the big push in education. I want to create a space where kids who are into the arts can also be into STEM in a way they’ll appreciate and be able grow from.”
He is hoping to use the campaign to provide his makerspace with a lot of architectural tools, such as sketching tools, lightboxes, t-squares, markers as well as tools for Styrofoam 3D modeling.
He has until the middle of July to raise funding for the campaign, and if it’s successful, the space will open at the beginning of the school year.
“A makerspace is really never done growing, or evolving is a better term. So it’ll open in a very basic state at the beginning of the next school year, and just continue to grow forever,” he added.
School Partnerships with NextFab Studio
NextFab, the 21,000-square-foot “gym for innovators” on Washington Avenue, has partnered with two schools, Chester A. Arthur and Edwin A. Stanton school, to offer seven week-long after school programs for ten students from each school. Both are located within a few blocks of Next Fab.
Jonathan Tekac, director of membership and community services at Next Fab, gave both groups of students a tour of the facility and talked to them about careers in fields related to making. Students also began working on a design challenge while learning to use Adobe Illustrator.
Next Fab hosted Philadelphia Future‘s robotics club while they built a robot for a competition on April 26. The NextFab team is also beginning to work with Kanopka to create a program to help teachers set up their own maker education curriculum and makerspaces.
Tekac said they plan on hosting an open house and membership drive at the end of May or beginning of June to help raise funds for makerspaces at schools such as Academy at Palumbo, Stanton, and Arthur.
“There’s a lot of stuff that we’re doing, but I think the more we can reach out and impact the kids, the better it’ll be,” Tekac said.
(Top two images from Academy of Palumbo courtesy of Klint Kanopka. Image of Next Fab via Next Fab website)-30-
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