BY DIANE BONICA, TUALATIN ROTARY
It is not often that you get to see “the power of a pen” yet Rotary members witnessed this and much more during a presentation for Tualatin’s Mobile Makerspace. A demonstration of a new 3-d pen had everyone interested in scientifically artistic creations. Knowing that true scientists “tinker” as they work, the Rotary crowd fell in step with hands-on action.
Jerianne Thompson helps to coordinate the Mobile Makerspace as an off shoot of our library children’s events. Kids can make, invent and learn while having fun. When children interact with the materials provided, they become interested in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education.
A donation from the Rotary Club along with other funds provided by community partners has allowed Tualatin’s ABC initiative to build and supply the makerspace trailer. Students in grades 2-5 are involved with STEAM in their Tualatin classrooms . Teachers schedule appointments with the library staff and the learning travels to the school. To date, over 4,000 children have had the opportunity to discover the Mobile Makerspace.
Rotary is a philanthropic club and our Tualatin Rotary has a desire to serve at risk youth. The Makerspace is a perfect project. This Spring , the makerspace will be offering after school classes at Title One schools in Tualatin. This summer the creative materials will travel to our city parks as part of the summer lunch program. Children who might not otherwise be able to access STEAM education, will have the opportunity soon.
Educators and community members realize that there is a “Leaky” Science pipeline in our nation. Students decide early in their schooling that they are not good at math and science. They opt out of these classes. In turn, this decision prevents them from entering the good paying careers in math, science and technology. The Mobile Makerspace is hoping to change this trend. Allowing students to find success as beginning learners is a great method to plug the leak and create science minded citizens.
Tualatin’s ABC Initiative Committee is entering into a national competition this April. They could win the three million dollar grand prize. If this happens, our entire community will get the chance to become more STEAM savvy. There is a plan to build and staff a community center that will provide school to work opportunities for all.