Maker Space - It's all about workflow

Posted by Ken & Grace Williamson at 2/22/2017 9:00:00 AM

Maker Space

“It’s all about workflow,” is a phrase all the students in my class will recognize. Whether 3D printing a phone case, casting parts for a power wheels upgrade, or laser cutting an ornament, the trick is to combine the right software with the right equipment in the right order to take a project from start to finish. The challenge is to learn those new computer skills and get familiar with that specialized equipment, all while keeping in mind the all-important workflow--doing those tasks in the right order.

The high school students have been busy on projects designed by the MIT Fab Academy to promote a working understanding of how to make use of all the awesome equipment we have in the SCS Maker Space.  In addition to 3D printing, scanning 3D objects, CNC milling, and laser cutting, students can now cold cast metal objects from molds they make themselves using their own or pre-made designs they download. It’s been a lot of fun, with as much learning happening from botched projects as from picture-perfect end results. This next semester we’re looking forward to PCB milling, putting together an arduino controlled ME arm, and setting up a Raspberry Pi security cam.

The middle school has also jumped into “making.” They started the year by learning how to quickly take a logo off Google Images and convert it into a 3D mesh. There’s something so satisfying about taking an idea from image to real object, and Christmas laser-cut ornaments were a popular project again this year.  In addition to learning basic coding in the computer lab, these go-getters have recently jumped on the fad of fidget spinners. They are designing their own and 3D printing them, to the fidgeting fun of students all over the school.

Take a brief glance into our Maker Space at SCS and you’ll see some new equipment we’ve been grateful to acquire over the last year. A generous gift set our shop up with the basics for an investment casting system. This has enabled us to cast into metal the 3D prototypes we print or mill. XYZ Printing recruited us to beta-test a new 3D printer over the summer, and we were able to keep it. We also have another CNC machine, courtesy of an Inventables contest that we won. Over Christmas break we won another contest put on by Dremel and are now equipped with two Dremel Idea Builders. The students have put these new “toys” to good use, making all sorts of projects. We are so thankful for all the donations.

For the student who loves variety and a hands-on learning experience, this class has been loads of fun.  The “workflow” that they develop while “making” can then translate into how they approach other goals they set in their lives.