New maker space for next generation learning at CHS
By Heather Bailey, Staff Writer, Cloverdale Reveille
New machine – Principal Chris Meredith stands next to the laser cutter, part of the ‘build space’ in the new maker space at Cloverdale High School.
The doors aren’t in yet, and some equipment has yet to be installed, but the brand new maker space at Cloverdale High School is taking shape; the former weight room has been converted into a space for use by multiple classes
Art work – 21st century tools like a laser cutter and a shop bot will allow students to let their imaginations run wild and design art pieces as well as
The “build space” features a massive roll-up door to move large projects in and out, and a full complement of traditional construction tools. However, joining the drills and saws are more modern tools of the trade, like the laser cutter and the “shop bot,” a computer controlled router used for digital manufacturing. Both tools are controlled by software and are programmable to create pieces of art or pre-cut construction pieces like shelves, in equal measure.
Just behind the build space is the design lab, which will incorporate more digital manufacturing, including smaller laser cutters and routers as well as 3-D printers. All will have computers and workstations.
“This is where kids can kind of tinker and make knickknacks and kind of explore the idea of digital manufacturing. It will have a small table top router that will be a stepping stone for the big guy, so that’s pretty cool,” CHS principal Chris Meredith said.
Adjacent to both areas is a massive space meant to invoke the most famous of collaborative environments. “When you walk in here, think Google,” Meredith said. “So nontraditional furniture, moving tables, wall-to-wall white board, they can plug their Chromebooks in and they can design projects together.”
Other features include a Mac lab, a virtual reality setup for 3-D computer design and virtual reality programming, and an audiovisual section, which will feature a recording studio, green screen and film and audio equipment.
“The kids can do live taping, different types of morning announcements or drama productions or any type of filming, and here we have a recording studio so this will be really cool. Kids can make music, they can record lyrics and acoustics, they can do anything,” Meredith said.
In addition to the expansion for the maker and construction classes, their move to the new space will free up their current home in room five to give the art and painting classes room to expand, though there will be a “finish booth” in the maker building for large art projects as needed.
Though the renovation of the space began before Meredith’s tenure, his experience with maker education makes him a natural to take over the project — he was maker principal for Santa Rosa City Schools and wrote his thesis on the experience.
What he is most focused on is opening up the use of the space and integrating it into not just construction and art curriculum, but other classes as well.
“We want all of our current staff to learn how they can integrate this space into their curriculum,” Meredith said. “We want to provide the opportunity for more project based learning. We want to integrate that across the board in terms of classes we offer. We want kids to develop skills while getting degrees. We don’t want to divide our kids and say these are industry or career technical kids and these are our college degree kids. We want our kids that are on the college track to also discover their passions and learn some skills that are useful in different industries.”
Going forward, Meredith hopes to put on a mini maker fair, modeled on the larger event in the Bay Area. “What I picture is that that whole parking lot is empty with pop up tents and exhibits,” he said. “I want the boosters here with the barbeque. I want kids making their own smoothies, kids making their own t-shirts, people checking out the student work. I want families in the design lab making a key chain with the 3-D printer, and make it a community event, make it a fundraiser, to bring people together.
The plan is for the new maker space to be ready for students at the start of next semester.