Written by Kate Murray, Thinker
Every Wednesday, Thinkery’s doors are opened for a night of community access. It is, by far, my favorite day to work. With six hours of drop-in activities in Space 8, there is ample time for transformative moments with creative young thinkers in our maker space.
On one of these Wednesdays in particular, we were tinkering with MaKeyMaKey circuit boards, creating our own game controllers out of any and every conductive object we could find when one of our awesome Open Door Scholarship recipients, Joshua, had a radical idea…
Within moments of checking in, Joshua asked, “why make a controller that looks like a normal controller, when we could turn my dance moves into Frogger’s jump or the Steve’s dig in Paper Minecraft?” Without hesitation, we set to work. Over the next few hours, we had not only successfully transformed Joshua’s foot taps, snaps, and high fives into working game controllers, but we had learned – through doing – how circuits work and what programming really looks like behind our software.
Joshua had been empowered to ask the question, and we had equipped him with the tools to explore it. Experiences like this highlight the approach we take as informal educators in Space 8 and all other areas of the museum.
Space 8 is a maker place that equips all participants with both old and new tinkering tools, while prompting collaborative problem solving. When we’re creating something, our focus is always on the skills, not on the product. By the end of every session, our goal as educators is for each participant to feel confident about approaching the new subject they explored, and to feel empowered in asking further questions.
Space 8 is where Joshua began a new journey into S.T.E.A.M. subjects, and gained the confidence to be a creative problem solver. Like the time we succeeded in making a pair of pants to go with his Minecraft Halloween costume. We did a dance to celebrate! In each and every interaction we’ve shared, he’s inspired me to continue being open to learning new things.
Thanks to the Open Door scholarship, Joshua is now a dedicated participant of Spark Club, continuing to build on this initial experience alongside our trusty Thinkers. Scholarships are one of many efforts funded by the Open Door Initiative to allow children access to programs, like Spark Club, when they may not otherwise be able to do so.
Whether you’re 8, 12 or 56 years old, Space 8 encourages every participant to question their assumptions, push their limits and have a transformative, hands-on experience. As a community resource for educational experiences, we can only grow and adapt through the input from our participants. And the more participants we can provide access to, the more we, as a community, can benefit.
We hope you’ll join us!
– “Thank you so much for having me in Spark Club! October Spark Club was so much fun. My favorite part was sewing the pants for my Halloween costume. Kate really showed me how to use the sewing machine and helped me understand how to sew. I can’t wait to go back to Spark Club again.” – Joshua
– “We would love to express our thanks to everyone who makes Spark Club possible. Wednesdays are so much fun for Joshua. He looks forward to it every week! We appreciate the amazing opportunity and look forward to the future with Spark Club!! Thank you again!!” -Joshua’s mom