Update from the Lab: La Escuelita Elementary has a new Maker Space!

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A couple of weeks ago, Kerri Frederick at La Escuelita Elementary asked us for help setting up their Maker Space.  They are another school in the Oakland Unified School District that is partnering with Maker Ed’s VISTA program, and had expected to have two VISTAs arriving before the school year started.  Unfortunately their VISTAs had to back out at the last-minute, and La Escuelita was left trying to figure out how to get their Maker Space up and running before the school year.

Kerri had heard about the Creativity Lab at Lighthouse, and that a big part of the work we do here is to give support to teachers and schools around Making.  We aren’t always able to take such an active role in helping schools set up Maker Spaces, but in this case we had the time and really wanted to help.  We’re excited any time an OUSD school wants to find ways to incorporate Making into their curriculum, and this sounded like an interesting challenge

The room they were converting had been a large storage room; it was filled with built-in shelving units which had to be taken apart, and then reassembled in other spaces on campus.  The company that had installed them said that there was no way to take it apart without special tools.  However, as we began, it became clear that this was not the case.  The only tricky part was that the shelves were bolted into the floor, but we were able to detach them with a simple ratchet wrench.

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We worked with La Escuelita for a couple of days, and were able to get the shelves completely disassembled, the space cleared, the shelves reassembled, and the materials bins labeled in their Maker Space.  Go team!

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The happy ending to the story is that the La Escuelita Maker Space has gotten a VISTA after all; Erik Pirmann just arrived this week from Philadelphia.  He’s sounds excited to be helping them start their program, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with La Escuelita and Erik as the year progresses.  We’ll keep you posted!

And if you are from an OUSD or Title I school, and want some help with Making, creating a Maker Space, or taking apart tricksy shelving, please contact us.  We’re happy to help as much as we can; even if we can’t come out to help you set up, we have tons of resources we’re always happy to share!


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About Cissy Monroe

Cissy has been a Maker long before the term came into popular usage. She is a seamstress, origami and papercrafts enthusiast, and occasionally has the patience for knitting, crochet, and woodworking. For the past 5 years, she has worked as a cook -- most recently at a public school in Sonoma County that provides organic, made-from-scratch breakfasts and lunches for their students. She returned to college a year ago to complete a degree in Environmental Studies, and from there plans to pursue a teaching credential for high school biology. She joined the Creativity Lab staff through the AmeriCorps VISTA program this August. Her position as the Curriculum and Documentation Coordinator at Lighthouse will allow her explore new (to her) aspects of Making, while also supporting teachers to integrate Making into their curricula. She looks forward to sharing their projects with you here.