Makerspace Giving Orcutt Academy Students Access to High Tech Technology

Students now able to use cutting-edge equipment during their free time


ORCUTT, Calif. - High school has gone high tech at Orcutt Academy. It's all thanks to a new corner of the school library now called "makerspace."

"It's a place where kids can come in and they can use the different type of technology that we provide them, and tinker around with these things," Brenda Williams, media careers specialist at the school.

Makerspace is an emerging concept nationwide that's available in a growing number of public places, particularly libraries.

Principal Rhett Carter felt it was a great idea to establish one on campus so students would be able access cutting-edge technology during their free time. The school was able to create their makerspace at the start of the current school year.

"We can 3D design, or we can use the 3D pen, or we can use the stop motion videos, or we can use the green screen," said student Kyle Soto.

Thanks to the program, students now have access to technology they likely wouldn't have otherwise.

"Some of this equipment can be kind of expensive," said Soto. "So some people many not be able to afford it, but we have it available at the library for us to use for free, so that's pretty important."

Also important for students is the equipment allows them to enhance their education and skill levels in the key "STEAM" subjects, of science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

"It allows the students to broaden those different disciplines and they're doing and they not even realizing that they're growing in those areas," said Williams.

In addition to adding to their academic opportunities, students say they also use the technology as a way to unwind from their daily stresses and to simply to have fun.

"We're already working hard in school, so I have to find something fun to do. This is kind of like my hobby. I like creating stuff and that's what I like doing, so I come here to play with the 3D printer," said student Ulises Chavez.

The printer, called the Sprout, is cultivating a whole new way to complete schoolwork.

"Students come in here and 3D print stuff for their projects, which I think is pretty cool for science projects, because sometimes you have to build stuff, like DNA molecules and stuff," said Chavez.

Williams notes students are essentially on their own at makerspace, giving them a key lesson in self sufficiency.

"They have to teach themselves and then they have to teach each other, which is a really cool concept for students to have to learn to communicate with each other and learn from each other."

With a learn by doing philosophy, makerspace is providing students much more than just an educational experience.

"This has really made a difference in my school career," said Soto. "I'm actually learning how to design something on my own, it's just getting that feeling of wow,  I  did that by myself."

School officials hope to add more technology and grow the makerspace in future years.

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