By: Special to the Intermountain Catholic
SALT LAKE CITY — When St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Schools students were able to return to school in-person last August, they were excited to be with teachers and friends in their classrooms. Following new safety protocols for COVID-19, they quickly adapted to the “new norm” for classroom etiquette and were surprised to learn a new classroom was developed for them over the summer with a lot of help from the community. This special room is the Louise Cairo Best Makerspace, a place where students get to explore their own interests and develop creative projects.
“The goal of the Makerspace is to give students a place for hands-on creating. It encourages creativity, critical thinking and collaboration,” said Suzanne Kimball, who directs the Makerspace. “It also helps students become more confident in their abilities to make something from an idea. Students can learn through trial and error. In this space, we don’t want students to not try something because it won’t be perfect, we want them to look at their projects and make revisions as they go.”
The space was made possible through the donations of the school’s parents and supporters. The tables and benches were custom-made by a grandparent of the school community, Mark Vaughn. He worked with the school to create tables with different heights; they also have the ability to move tables around to accommodate a variety of projects and grade levels. He thought about every aspect of the room from the benches to the electrical outlets and helped make the space into something that will change as the program grows and evolves to meet the needs of the student projects.
“Students love going to the Makerspace because it engages them with creative, hands-on activities,” said St. Vincent Principal Gary Green. “The Makerspace is part of the next evolution in education because students use skills they need for jobs, even for jobs that don’t exist yet. They use design thinking, collaboration, problem solving and other necessary skills.”
Some of the projects students have created include a model of Newton’s laws of motion, Advent calendars, kaleidoscopes, redesigning ears, book binding, pyramid building, designing building for extreme climates, chain reactions and Greek myth video reenactments.