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Nipmuc Regional to Roll Out Makerspace Pilot

Nipmuc Regional High School will be piloting a new "makerspace," announced officials at a January 13 School Committee Meeting - a space to give high school students access to hands-on, project based learning.

A makerspace is a collaborative work space generally inside a school or library dedicated for project creations across many subject and interest areas.

"We were looking at ways that we could become an innovative, forward-thinking district and create opportunities for students to have hands-on, real world, project based learning," said Director of Technology Integration David Quinn to the School Committee about the new makerspace.

After receiving a $1,000 grant from the Blackstone Valley Education Foundation back in October specifically for designing a new makerspace at the high school, the Makerspace Committee co-chaired by Quinn and Nipmuc Media Center Specialist Suzanne Venkataraman began making plans, said Quinn.

The committee toured several schools who already have established makerspaces including Lynnfield High School, Burlington High School, Hopkinton High and Middle Schools, and Sharon High and Middle Schools.

Taking what they learned back to Nipmuc, Quinn said that the have begun to put the pieces in place to develop a true makerspace at the school.

But support is going to be key to the success of the project, admitted Quinn, from both student and teacher support to community support.

"We are going to need members of the community to help us by sharing their knowledge with the students," said Quinn. The group is also looking to the community for financial support and material donations. "There is already someone who will be donating sewing machines to the makerspace," he said.

Quinn ticked off a list of equipment generally seen in a makerspace including 3D printers, robots, computers for coding, whiteboards, and more, stating that they plan to start small and buy materials driven by the students' interests.

"This is not always the case of 'if you make it, they will come'," said Quinn. "We are hoping to treat this space like a research and design lab - powered by student energy and passions."

The pilot makerspace will be located in the reference section of Library and will have a soft opening in March. The makerspace will be open to the public during the school district's 3rd annual Community iFair on March 30.

"Our mission is to create the next generation of innovators, problem seekers, and problem solvers through collaboration, experimentation, and creation," said Quinn.

Several members of the School Committee voiced their praise for the makerspace pilot.

"It sounds amazing; absolutely phenomenal," said Dorothy Scally. "I support this 100 percent."


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