Dr Neil Scott of Univ Hawai’, Manoa College of Education is bringing “making” back to middle schools. His project, called The Makery, puts a small work center in selected Hawaiian Charter Schools and provides teachers with training and curriculum in the use of electronics, Computer Aided Design (CAD), Manufacture (CAM) and machining (CNC) to foster student interest in STEM. A key component of the project is integration of culture and arts. The apex project for students is the creation of a Hawaiian Steel Guitar, which they also learn to play.Dr. Scott’s vision extends beyond these islands of innovation to the Makery Cloud – an association of classroom Makery equipped schools, a Central Makery and external partnerships. This vision may provide a terrific opportunity for Makerspaces to partner with schools.
The Makery Project has its roots in Stanford U’s Archimedes Project studying barriers to student learning and use of technology. The project moved to U.Hawai’i in 2003 with Dr Scott with a focus on providing universal access to computer tech. A grant from NSF in 2006 spun up “The Invention Factory” to create a program in hands-on, project based instruction to stimulate interest in STEM careers in underrepresented population. They ran three years of workshops with middle and high school kids. They found kids start off with no idea of what STEM is and why it is important to learn, expected instant gratification, had poor reading/writing skills, very little practical skills or knowlege but they were not stupid – just bored. The kids could learn and make cool stuff if they got the chance.
Lessons from these workshops were incorporated into the 2008 rollout of the Makery project at a charter school on the Big Island. Dr Scott and his team setup a 3 year curriculum, tightly coupling theory and practice. (Dr Scott references this pedagogical technique to US Navy Electronics courses created by Van Valkenberg, et al. where hands on lab exercises immediately follow class elements.) The first year taught basics of electronics and magnetism. The second introduced electronics, sensors and microprocessors. The third year introduced CAD/CAM design and fabrication using modern desktop systems. The culmination is the crafting of a Hawaiian Steel Guitar – along with instruction in playing it! Ahh – STEM meets the Arts => STEAM.
The latest evolution of The Makery includes the provision of a work center. This nicely designed table includes workstations for electronics, as well as small benchtop power tools, and a small CNC Mill. Storage for tools and supplies is provided under the divided work top. (insert pictures)
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The power tools from Proxxon may look like toys, but they are actually well crafted professional model making tools, quite well suited to a small workshop. The CNC Micro Mill is a custom system design by the UH Manoa team. They have several different configurations depending on the intended work pieces. The basic desktop system has a fairly small work area (roughly 12″), while a long version can be used for making the guitar bodies.
The latest incarnation of The Makery is the 2011 installation at Kihei Charter School on Maui. Kihei Charter also has a Makerbot Thing-o-Matic. I’m hoping to establish a good working relationship between Kihei Charter and Maui Makers. I think there is great potential for collaboration.
I visited Dr. Scott at his Makery Central at U.H Manoa back on Jan 25th, 2011. He has an impressive lab setup with several larger CNC mills, a laser cutter, etc. Dr Scott was at the 2011 3rd Annual Henry Kalialoha Allen Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival, doing a workshop with the kids and staff from (Big Island charter school). There were about 6-10 students building guitars over the 3 days. Pictures from both the UH Manoa visit and the Guitar workshop are in my Flicker Set:
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- COE Invention Factory Helps Middle and High School Students Learn Entrepreneurism by Making Hawaiian Steel Guitars (sept 2009)
- Training Teachers to Use a Makery to Increase Student Interest and Proficiency in STEM
- Stanford Archimedes Project (predates UH Work)
- Hawai’i Archimedes Project
- 2011 3rd Annual Henry Kalialoha Allen Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival
- 2007 article on Invention Factory
- Ryan Kawailani Ozawa Blog post on UH Makery
- Honolulu Civil Beat on UH Makery
- Honolulu Civil Beat on Community Makery at the Palolo Community Learning Center on Oahu