As we gear up for the grand opening of Archimedes, we want to give a special thanks to the students who helped make this new space come to life! Over the next few days, we’ll be sharing a blog series from Christina who tells her story about what it was like to be a part of Archimedes.
Christina’s Casual Contemplation on Archimedes, Part 1
This year a group of high school students engineered the Archimedes Makerspace, an area in the upstairs of the Fremont Main Library where people are given access to 3D printers, a laser cutter, vinyl cutter, heat press, and various other equipment to realize the designs of their dreams. I was very lucky to have been able to work alongside my friends in the designing and making of the Makerspace’s tables, beautiful blank slates waiting to be pockmarked with the hard work of people eager to build.
Making tables for Archimedes was fun, even though using the drill seemed scary at first.
With the opening of week-long classes this summer, students were able to test out the new machines while learning how to problem solve, ask questions, and work around failures. I am no exception.
When it comes to learning about certain pieces of software or machinery, I tend to conjure up images of teachers in a stuffy classroom instructing students on a step-by-step basis on how to build a specific project ...and voila! Students get to make “their own” project while being handheld through a slideshow tutorial on how to make a generic outer space shooter game, or piece together a bland toy race car, while not truly understanding the underlying mechanics and rarely being able to deviate from a specific set of instructions.
While learning by example is always a good idea, not being able to explore and having the freedom to express one’s own creativity kills any enthusiasm for learning and fails in teaching students how to make their own ideas come to life. It skips the process of iterative designing and the acceptability of failure.
That is why I was pleasantly surprised when I joined the first series of Archimedes classes. There was no step-by-step handholding on how to make a specific project. Instead, we got the freedom to make whatever we wanted after Ms.Berbawy and several of her experienced students (deemed “master builders”) showed us the basics of a new piece of equipment or allowed us to browse on our own through the menus and options of unfamiliar software. We could each show off our own little discoveries of a hidden menu or some technique that we found after scouring through websites or experimenting with tools to friends that had similar questions.
It was encouraging to see so many teachers available to us—not just in Ms.Berbawy and her master builders but also in my peers. Getting to know other people in my age group with similar interests and having conversations with them—not just about what we were making or what we had trouble on, but also about what school we went to and what we liked to do outside of STEM—helped me realize that I should go outside more often. I’m an introvert, but these classes revealed how a sociable environment of makers can be just as comfortable as home to me.
Come back for tomorrow’s installment, when Christina shares how her experiences with Archimedes transcended beyond this space.