By Anne O’Connor
PEPPERELL — Middle school students will be going even more high-tech in a hands-on classroom where they can make things that work.
A $2,500 grant from 3M will enable the school to purchase screens for the Raspberry Pi teaching computers it already owns. They are set up in the school’s makerspace.
“It will give each kid a workstation,” said Evan Worth, technology and makerspace teacher at Nissitissit Middle School.
The innovative classroom comes at little cost to the district. “The whole thing is really grant funded,” he said.
“I’m lucky that we have some parents from 3M,” Worth said. “They kind of tipped me off about it.”
In the classes, which meet, once a week, students might make an electric circuit using tinfoil and batteries or print something on a 3D printer.
“All over the spectrum of STEM,” he said.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education sets standards for science, technology, engineering and math in the curriculum.
Students learn the basics of programming and making their own robots, Worth said.
“They love it,” he said.
Makerspace learning has been compared to technical classes from an earlier era, he said. Instead of cutting wood and designing shelves, kids use computers and other new technology.
The learning style can engage students who are not strong in traditional subjects.
A couple of his students are really good at programming, Worth said. They made a really cool clock.
Teaching in a non-traditional classroom is a lot more work than teaching the standard curriculum.
“I’m making this, the whole curriculum, up,” Worth said.
The district is considering a new curriculum from a Massachusetts company, FableVision, which uses project-based learning.
“I think that will be good,” he said.
Using the makerspace as part of a project-based learning might mean something like an English teacher using the lab so students can use paper-cutters to tell a story.
Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter @a1oconnor.