by Cecil White
A makerspace is a place in which people with shared interests, especially in computing, innovation, or technology, can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge. St. George School has had a makerspace for about three years, thanks to the generous support of the Perloff Family Foundation, Wick Skinner and the Maine Community Foundation, as well as the enthusiastic support of school staff, students and community.
Mr. Meinersmann is in charge of the makerspace at St. George School. He helps kids program machines and build things. The most challenging and fun part of his job is “to prove that kids can do anything and helping them prove that to themselves.”
Before the makerspace became what it is today, Mr. Meinersmann’s title was the Technology Director. In that role, he helped make sure the phone system was reliable and made sure the kids had working laptops for school work. He still has that title and those responsibilities, plus now he gets to use a whole bunch of fun equipment in the makerspace.
There are many tools in the makerspace, such as seven 3D printers, a CNC machine (CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control), laser cutter, soldering station, plus some older tools from when St. George School had “shop” or Industrial Arts and “home ec” or Family and Consumer Science.
Ms. Palmer also works in the makerspace, “and beyond, to bring a ‘maker’ mindset into classrooms.” She solves problems and creates with the younger students, focusing on hands-on projects. Fifth graders have programmed with Spheros. Fourth graders have made ornaments using the laser cutter, and have built and wired model houses using the 3D printer. Second graders have learned to code and solve engineering problems. Not all the projects depend on the new machines. First graders have made syrup by tapping trees and experimented with light and sound. Kindergarteners have made pumpkin pie using garden squash and played with forces and motion.
Ms. Palmer and Mr. Meinersmann both lead two after-school programs: the Lego Robotics Team and the 3-5 grade STEAM club. Lego Robotics is a group of kids who collaborate to solve world-wide problems and they use Legos and programming to help solve them. The STEAM club focuses on technology skills, especially programming.
There are lots of cool things you can do in the makerspace. Up in the makerspace people like me can learn how to program, build things like robot cars, or learn how to design things on CAD (Computer Assisted Design) websites. Some ideas of things you can build are chess pieces, board games, statues and a whole lot more. For example, at Christmas I made some personalized ornaments for my family. Recently, some classmates in seventh grade made a 3D laser-cut scene from a book they read, and others are designing a Monopoly-type game board with places from the setting of their book. A classmate, Bryson Mattox, is constructing a device to measure the salinity in the marsh as part of the alewife restoration project in Mrs. England’s science class.
In the future, we hope that all community members could have access to our space and the training to use the equipment so everyone can design and make their inventions.
As a seventh grader, I am very grateful that we have this space. I like the makerspace because it gives me time to myself to do something else other than traditional school work. It’s a relaxing environment where I can be creative and proud of my work.
PHOTOS: Paul Meinersmann