501 3c Organization

Foundation Funds, Sandy Springs Society Grant and Sandy Springs Education Force Help Launch Makerspace

Riverwood International Charter School is excited to announce the addition of a student Makerspace — a space designed and dedicated to hands-on creativity — coming fall semester 2018. The Riverwood Foundation was instrumental in funding the new area. In addition to making an initial commitment of $25,000, the Foundation secured outside support from both the Sandy Springs Society (SSS) and the Sandy Springs Education Force (SSEF). In May 2018, the SSS donated $15,000 and the SSEF followed with a $2,000 grant in July 2018.

With funds committed, initial student planning and implementation sessions are already underway. The core group of students includes two seniors who are taking leadership roles. Senior Max Seidel said, “The Riverwood Makerspace is a place for individuals of all backgrounds to explore the world of STEM and discover how it can be applied to all disciplines. This space is a huge leap for Riverwood into the Maker Movement and the future of education.” Added Senior Ethan Wells, “We are brainstorming the direction we want take the space. It is important to us to create a space that builds community, represents diverse cultures and influences, and also represents multiple disciplines.”  

Riverwood’s Makerspace is only the second such space that exists in Fulton County Schools. Scott Kent, Assistant Principal, serves as the faculty advisor.  Kent was formerly at Centennial High School in North Fulton, where he led the formation of the first such space in March 2017. Kent remarked, “The teacher is not the expert, doesn’t hold all the information. The kids can come to the Makerspace with a problem or something they want to do and they are going to go through the learning process the way it works for them. They will make mistakes, but we encourage that because we feel they learn a lot from their mistakes. We encourage them to start over and try something new. The Makerspace is a great springboard to find something they are interested in. We can use the Makerspace to leverage their interest to get them to do the things we need them to do.”

A Makerspace is an updated version of the old high school “shop class” reengineered for today’s world. A Makerspace offers an array of equipment for creation and innovation, such as 3D printers, poster makers, vinyl cutters, screen printers, digital video and sound production systems, and electronic and computer design. Added Kent, “Our goal is to increase the percentage of students who engage in STEM-related activities to help them build the problem-solving skills and the capacity for deep content exploration they need to succeed in the work world they will soon enter. Creating the Makerspace will allow teachers to provide students with additional opportunities to actively engage in the subjects they teach.”

The initial Makerspace will be housed in a collaboration classroom and will move to a permanent space in Fall 2019. The Riverwood Foundation will continue to fund the Makerspace and will seek additional community donations to allow for further growth of the Makerspace.

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