SAN JOSE, CA, May 19, 2018 — St. Leo the Great School in downtown San Jose partnered with RAFT (Resource Area for Teaching) to design and build a custom Makerspace at the school.
On May 16th, St. Leo's 7th and 8th grade students with support from RAFT, teachers, parents, and volunteers built tables, storage shelves, and tool walls to outfit their new Makerspace. Using impact drivers, tape measures, and squares the students took charge managing to complete the entire build in one school day. As a gift to their younger peers, the 8th grade class transformed an empty room into a fully stocked Makerspace ready for years of STEAM related experimentation and hands-on learning.
Eighth grader Kaleigh Phipps picked up an impact driver and spent the day building tables with her team, “Even though it was a small thing like a table, it felt very empowering, and it was much easier than it seemed. I definitely think it was a learning experience, a fun learning experience.” She was looking forward to creating the legacy project for future students, adding “It makes me feel very happy that I get to leave this cool thing behind for generations and generations of grades and the younger students I know now, and it's fun to see if it will grow into something huge.”
Makerspaces offer hands-on, creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build, and invent as they engage in relevant STEAM projects. At St. Leo's, the new Makerspace includes a wide range of tools and materials that are critical to the design, making, and exploration process.
Alec Borer, a seventh grade student, was a bit cautious at the beginning saying, “At first, I was a little hesitant at seeing so many people–most of whom had never used a drill before–start to build large, bulky objects made of heavy wood.” But as the day progressed, he started to see the teamwork evolve, “Each of us participated and worked together as a team and as a result the shelves were built quickly. Faster than I anticipated. We had so much fun.”
St. Leo's principal, Matt Komar, has long been a champion of STEAM education. The school supports a robotics club and teachers integrate STEAM related hands-on activities in their curriculum. But the school needed a dedicated space with ready access to tools, materials, and a wealth of supplies where students could fully immerse in STEAM activities. With guidance from RAFT, the St. Leo's community collaboratively envisioned and designed the Makerspace. RAFT drew up the plans and the 8th grade students took it from there. The space will be stocked with RAFT's donated, recycled materials from Silicon Valley companies throughout the school year.
Komar stated, “'The Build Day' implementation from RAFT was the ultimate example of '21st Century learning.' Watching the students of St. Leo the Great cooperate, innovate, learn, apply, and problem solve while having fun was a sight to see. To watch the students proudly sign their name to their completed project was something every educator enjoys seeing.”
RAFT will provide professional coaching and Design Thinking challenges for all K- 8th grade teachers. Support is aligned to Next Generation Science and Common Core Standards helping St Leo's teachers to further inspire the next generation of innovators, problem solvers and creative thinkers.
As the first Catholic school in the San Jose Diocese to implement the Makerspace, St. Leo's is providing resources to educators to aid in their instruction, learn real world concepts, and instill students with a sense of exploration in STEAM concepts.
RAFT – Resource Area For Teaching is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping educators inspire a child's joy and discovery of learning through hands-on education. Founded in 1994, RAFT focuses on providing educators of all types with effective, engaging, affordable, hands-on learning resources built around STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) concepts and aligned with national curriculum standards. RAFT supports this mission through STEAM activities and kits; low-cost, hands-on bulk supplies; educator coaching & curriculum development; and makerspaces—in-school areas where students can design, build, and experiment. RAFT believes the best way to spark a love of learning for the next generation of thinkers, innovators, problem-solvers, and creators is through hands-on learning. RAFT supports some 7,000 educators in the Bay Area to enrich and improve the education of more than 500,000 local students each year.
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