Maker Spaces Will Offer NRV Children Tools for Tinkering
Community Housing Partners (CHP) is pleased to announce that its Resident Services department has recently formed a partnership with Virginia Tech's VT Engage and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) to create maker space environments at two CHP-owned and managed rental communities for low-income families in the New River Valley, benefiting the youth in their on-site after-school programs.
By incorporating the technology-based DIY principles of the Maker Movement into CHP’s after-school programs, the partnership aims to provide places where children can let their imaginations run wild.
"It's about getting kids to design their own things and think of themselves as makers,” CHP Regional Resident Services Coordinator Tiffany Slusher said.
With a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, maker spaces typically blend aspects of traditional laboratories, workshops, and interactive exhibits, thereby inviting hands-on construction and tinkering. At CHP-owned and managed Linden Green Apartments in Christiansburg and Meadowview Apartments in Pulaski, the maker spaces will also provide opportunities for the children to master the use of unfamiliar tools and the chance to make physical things on site. Potential maker space projects at the two rental communities include building water rockets, designing cardboard trusses, experimenting with window hydroponics, and competing in an egg drop contest.
“CHP is very excited about being able to provide approximately 50 children access to maker space environments that encourage resourcefulness, perseverance, and problem solving, which are important life skills for leading a stable and self-sufficient life,” explained CHP Vice President of Resident Services Angie Roberts-Dobbins. Studies show that “making” also builds confidence, critical and creative thinking skills, and STEM knowledge and skills.
Thanks to a grant awarded to VT Engage’s AmeriCorps VISTA Network by the Virginia State AmeriCorps office, the maker space activities will be facilitated by a VISTA member over a three-year period. ICAT fellows will provide physical, instructional, and cultural support for the program.
About the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT)
A university-level research institute sitting at the nexus of the arts, design, engineering, and science, the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) is uniquely partnered with the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech. By forging a pathway between trans-disciplinary research and art, educational innovation, and scientific and commercial discovery, the institute works to foster the creative process to create new possibilities for exploration and expression through learning, discovery, and engagement. This includes preparing students in kindergarten through 12th grade and higher education environments to succeed in a world that demands teamwork and collaboration of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines; promoting new research domains that transcend institutionalized boundaries; and participating with people of all ages in the process of co-creation.