Many New Richmond Schools families have watched at least one episode of the New Richmond High School news show Roar on the River.
During the Oct. 19 Board of Education meeting, a team of students, teachers and administrators offered a behind the scenes look into what makes this news program and so much more possible.
Four years ago the New Richmond High School media center was converted to include flexible seating to meet the different needs of students who use the space, Director of Student Services John Frye said. For two years the space functioned as a library with limited circulation.
Then, in 2019, the space was transformed into a makerspace that’s accessible to both NRHS and NRMS students. A makerspace is a collaborative workspace where students can explore their own interests, learn to use tools and materials, and develop creative projects, Mr. Frye said.
A variety of equipment is available in the makerspace including 3D printers, laser cutters, button makers, poster printers, and even sewing machines. Funding sources used to equip the learning space include monies from the district’s technology budget, some federal funds provided for supporting effective instruction with technology integration, and the curriculum budget. Technology Director Matt Prichard’s assistance helped to make the makerspace possible.
Mr. Frye said one of the biggest questions he gets asked is, why does New Richmond need a makerspace. The answer is simple, educating and preparing students for life beyond New Richmond Schools.
“These spaces help to equip and train students with critical 21st-century skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM),” Mr. Frye said. “They provide hands-on learning, help with critical thinking skills, and even boost self-confidence. Some of the skills that are learned in a makerspace pertain to electronics, 3D printing, 3D modeling, coding, robotics, and even woodworking. Makerspaces are also fostering entrepreneurship and are being utilized as incubators and accelerators for business startups.”
This space is increasingly a destination for classroom teachers, Mr. Frye said. Students can complete projects that support their and extend their regular lessons.
NRHS Principal Rob Burnside envisions an evolution of possibilities within the makerspace.
“If Makerspace I involves mastery of the 'tools', Makerspace 2-3 involves creation and capstone, then the next logical step involves moving toward a true entrepreneurship mindset,” he said. “We are just beginning with our Makerspace journey and several students and staff are leading the charge.”
Nicole Parker, Megan Whitacre, and Joyce Montgomery have been instrumental in the success of this program this year, Mr. Frye said.
Kelly Merritt has become the Teacher of Record for the new Makerspace 1 class offered each period. Maryann Dalton, Computer Programming, brings her students to learn about Raspberry Pi , (a capable little device that enables people of all ages to explore computing and to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python). Her students develop programming with robotics. And next year, Mrs. Dalton may teach NRHS’s newest elective - Gaming - which is high-level computer programming.
During the Oct. 19 meeting, the Board Members heard from and interacted with the presenting teacher along with students: Spencer Hartnady, Chad Tracey, Kaitlyn Colwell, Ashley Lykins, Kaleb Hensley, Cody Feldkamp, Maleigha Henderson, Abbi Maness, and Madi Mills.