Before the makerspace arrived at Meadowcreek High School, the school’s robotics area consisted of a closet in the back of a classroom.
“The makerspace really helps us expand our opportunities on what to build,” senior Alondra Robles said. “Having a tight space isn’t really helpful. You get frustrated. I don’t have enough space to do what I want to do. With this makerspace, we have a lot more tools to use.”
The makerspace partnership between Meadowcreek and Georgia Tech’s GoSTEM program began in 2011, and it aims to enhance the educational experience of Latino students in Georgia and strengthen the pipeline of these students into STEM majors in college and industries after college. The program is funded by The Goizueta Foundation.
Students began using the expanded area on the top floor this school year, and more equipment and tools are yet to be installed, but Meadowcreek and Georgia Tech officials on Tuesday held a ribbon-cutting celebration to mark the progress the partnership’s made.
“It allows it to be a collaborative space,” said William Nye, an administrator at Meadowcreek who overseas the STEM academy at Meadowcreek. “We have designed this so that different teachers and different curriculum can come up here and work with mechatronics, engineering, robotics and utilize that space for their own purposes.”
The space is also used for schools around the Meadowcreek cluster. About 25 students from Radloff Middle, for example, recently visited and interacted with Meadowcreek High students in the labs. They worked on things to fill their community garden, including bird houses, bat houses and compost bins.
“It helps my students, because when they’re instructing others, it takes their understanding to another level,” said Nye, who has a degree from Georgia Tech in applied biology with an emphasis in molecular biology genetics.
There are processes in place for students to pursue a U.S. patent, which Nye said is a real possibility for some.
“That opportunity can fundamentally change what they believe they’re able to do,” Nye said. “So a student’s self-efficacy goes through the roof because this is no longer just a multiple choice written exam. They’re actually applying what they’re learning, they’re doing it with their hands, finding out what did not work, and then that’s what life is really about.”
Meadowcreek High Principal Tommy Welch said this event was not just for Meadowcreek or Georgia Tech, but to transform learning on a larger scale.
Welch thanked Georgia Tech’s Vice President for Institute Diversity, Archie Ervin, for stretching the program beyond what currently exists, and “to also encourage and inspire students who might not be represented in that field, and encourage more.”