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Woodchips to microchips

Makerspace sessions hearken back to shop class — plus 3D printers

By Marcia Porter

Miss the scent of sawdust and woodchips from your days in junior and senior high school industrial arts labs? Want to create something cool with a 3D printer?

Then the Faculty of Education’s makerspace sessions coming up next month are just for you.

DIY space

A makerspace is a collaborative work space, for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses high tech to no-tech tools.

From left, Dr. Gerald Galway and Prof. David Gill in the Faculty of Education's Technology Education Centre.
From left, Prof. David Gill and Dr. Gerald Galway in the Technology Education Centre.
Photo: Chris Hammond

Faculty of Education members Dr. Gerald Galway and Prof. David Gill are offering makerspace sessions in partnership with the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School Eastern School District and the College of the North Atlantic, with support from a Memorial public engagement grant.

Traditional practice

In generations past, the process of making things used to be an everyday activity in both school and at home. The practice is enjoying a resurgence, and has led to the establishment of makerspaces across a range of public spaces from schools and libraries to colleges and universities.

By “making things,” Dr. Galway and Prof. Gill mean pretty much anything that you can make in a modern day technology space with fabrication equipment such as 3D printers, electronics and woodworking tools.

Prof. Gill, who teaches in the technology education program, sees the sessions as an excellent field experience for his students.

“We like to see our students engaging in experiential learning activities wherever we can create them,” he said.

Pre-service teachers will host and run the sessions following their first teaching internships in the faculty’s Technology Education Centre.

Some education students making use of the makerspace in the Faculty of Education.
Some education students making use of the makerspace in the Faculty of Education.
Photo: Chris Hammond

During their pre-service education, future technology education teachers get plenty of hands-on learning, building objects like rocking horses and remote-controlled robots to creating digital animation. In their current project, the education students are working on electronic devices like small drones and solar chargers for USB devices.

“We’re a technology school, so we are fully on board with this,” said Howard Guy, an instructor from the College of the North Atlantic who was instantly sold on the project. “Teachers will be using equipment with their students, and some students will be inspired to explore technology and careers in technology.”

Engage and connect

Funded by the Office of Public Engagement at Memorial, the project is intended to engage and connect members of the public and selected partner organizations with Memorial through the makerspace sessions.

Makers are ordinary people, in this case, students, teachers and members of the general public, some of whom may never have been inside Memorial and might be surprised by what they find inside the centre.

“We like the idea of getting people to spend time with us on campus where they can get reacquainted with the university and the college communities,” said Dr. Galway. “With this project, our intention is to create greater access to Memorial for students and the public.”

Maker space session are scheduled from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, Saturday, Oct. 22, Saturday, Oct. 29 and Saturday, Nov. 5. Please register here or contact Prof. David Gill if you would like additional information.

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