By Liz Paquette
Have you ever wanted or needed access to a 3D printer, sewing machine, programmable robots or any other kinds of equipment? Well look no further than the new Hack Shack Maker Space in the Oyster River High School Library work room.
A maker space is a “community center that provides technology, manufacturing equipment and educational opportunities to the public,” according to TechTarget.com. “The maker space is a fairly new movement, and there’s a lot of different ones,” explained Kathy Pearce, one of the Librarians at Oyster River High School. “Some people are familiar with Port City Maker Space, which is in Portsmouth,” she continued.
Port City Maker Space is a small business available to the public for a small monthly fee, and it provides access to woodworking, electronics, and machinery. Schools such as Sanborn Regional High School in New Hampshire and Berwick Academy in Maine have their own makerspaces in school. “[The maker space business in Portsmouth] is more of a tool shop. Here we have a lot of kids who are into robotics and video production stuff but aren’t in robotics club, don’t have time for it, or aren’t in the video production classes here but wanna be able to do something for a project,” added Pearce.
The Hack Shack Maker Space has been set up by the brand new class, Advanced IT Services, or ‘Help Desk’ as they are referred to by the librarians. The small class consists of only three people, but they have all been working very hard to set up the maker space. They have been testing the resources and setting up the room, as well as creating tutorials to help students learn how to use the different machinery.
The maker space will include a 3D printer, two programmable robots with different add-ons, a sewing machine, a bin of Legos, cardboard, fabric, a silhouette paper cutter, little bits (which are magnetic, snap together circuits) and a green screen.
To have access to the 3D printer, students must email Mrs. Carr or Mrs. Pearce or one of the Help Desk associates to get their request approved since it’s expensive and time consuming to use. Students can create these designs on Google SketchUp. “If it’s gigantic it’s going to take hours and it’s going to cost a lot of money, and we don’t want people downloading plans off the internet and saying ‘I want to print this.’ If you didn’t create [the design] yourself, then there’s no learning going on,” said Pearce. To learn how to use the equipment, students can access tutorials from the ORHS Hack Shack blog created by the Help Desk students.
“There are so many different things you can do with the stuff in here, that it will be able to open up many different opportunities with projects and stuff,” explained Matt Jones (‘16), who is one of the students enrolled in the Advanced IT Services class. Jones and Pearce attended a four-day robotics conference this summer, where they learned how to build and program the robots featured in the maker space. “The robots have Infrared sensors, so you can program it to follow things. It’s really funny, we had like a huge line of them following each other [at one point,]” said Jones. “This is pretty cool. I wish I could be doing this longer, this is a fun class.”
Not many students know about the maker space, or even what a maker space is. After Troy LaPolice discovered what it was, he thought that “it would allow students to create more impressive projects and allow us to have access to things we may not have in our everyday lives. I’m most excited to see the 3D printer and green screen.”
Shivika Aggarwal (‘18) loves the idea of the maker space. “This is so innovative, it will allow for so much creativity and imagination” she said. “Projects in core curriculum classes such as World Cultures and Citizen’s Education will never be the same. The green screen and the paper cutter and more will allow for more varied and unique projects.”
Mike McCann, Assistant Principal and Dean of Students is also very excited about the Hack Shack. “The maker space allows students another venue for them to do something a little different and experiment with some things in a really cool way during the school day,” He described. “Anytime that students can try something new and learn and challenge themselves to do something that’s not necessarily assigned to them is a great thing because it shows that they’re engaged and they want to learn more.”
The Hack Shack opened on Monday the fifth of October. “When the library was first started, it was books people needed equal access to. And now, that’s still the case, but if we don’t provide students with equal access to technology, some students will fall further and further behind and some students go further and further ahead,” Pearce explained. “Providing opportunities for everybody to be exposed to technology and be excited about creating something on their own and solving a problem on their own is what I’m most excited about.”