BY SARA SINGER, TUALATIN ABC PROJECT MANAGER
The Tualatin America’s Best Communities (ABC) Team is heading to Denver this month to compete in the final round of the competition sponsored by Frontier Communications, Co Bank, Dish, and The Weather Channel for a chance to win $3 million! Starting this process more than two years ago with over 350 communities across the country, it has been an incredible ride with now only eight communities still in the race. While the competition has been exciting, the collaboration among community partners is the real champion!
The Tualatin ABC team which includes representatives from the City, the Chamber, Mask & Mirror Community Theatre, Tigard-Tualatin School District and others conducted extensive community outreach to develop a Community Revitalization Plan that seeks to foster increased access to and competency in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) education. This focused initiative will:
• Increase economic and employment opportunities for our youth, especially within our economically-disadvantaged and under-represented populations;
• Provide a pipeline of talent for local industries; and,
• Accelerate the implementation of multiple community priorities identified in our community vision, Tualatin Tomorrow.
Our plan outlined a short-term strategy of developing a Mobile Makerspace which would enable us to take STEAM learning on the road, into schools, neighborhoods and a variety of events and festivals. Our newly completed 19-foot Makerspace trailer houses a variety of equipment and tools to allow for an interactive design and creation experience led by bilingual staff from the Tualatin Library and community volunteers. Curricula was designed by staff from the Tualatin Library and TTSD. The maker activities were launched during the summer of 2016 at community events, by October the curriculum was started in the local elementary schools, and in January the construction of the Mobile Makerspace trailer was complete. Our program’s unique attribute is its mobility. STEAM education is rolling to wherever the kids are; schools, neighborhoods, and community events, to maximize access and utilization. Mobility equals access and access equals opportunity. The school district, library and local employers have assisted us in acquiring equipment to outfit the trailer with computers for multimedia and CAD, 3D printers, and various tools and that is connecting kids to the latest technology. To date, our events have reached over 4,000 members of our community!
We rely on schools to prepare kids for the future, yet, it isn’t their job alone. So, a long-term strategy has been developed which builds on the success of the Mobile Makerspace, by establishing a Community Career and Creative Center. It will complement the Mobile Makerspace for students of all ages in learning applied sciences for high paying careers. This facility will offer a permanent makerspace, as well as classrooms where students will acquire competencies in collaborative problem solving, critical thinking, job readiness, and STEAM curricula. The Center will also promote activities in the arts including a venue for displays and performances. It will be a creative preparatory center for employment and higher education, where students gain technical skills, and are inspired to expand their imaginations and creativity, thereby, developing tools needed to succeed in life. This will require more work into the future as we continue to develop partnerships and raise funds, but the ABC competition has helped in galvanizing these relationships and has built momentum for our efforts.
We wish our team members Mayor Lou Ogden, Library Manager Jerianne Thompson and Tualatin Tomorrow Vice- Chair/Mask & Mirror Board Member John Bartholomew the best of luck as they represent our community in the final competition in Denver on April 19th. The rest of the team will be watching the live stream of the competition and cheering them on from Tualatin. Stay tuned for more details on where and when to watch the presentations by following us on social media: @TUALATINABC (Twitter), FACEBOOK. COM/TUALATINABC, or INSTAGRAM.COM/ TUALATINMAKERSPACE.
There are many ways to get involved in the project through volunteering and donations. Learn more at tualatinmakerspace.com. Go Team Tualatin! Let’s go full STEAM ahead!