These WNY students are learning robotics, coding and 3-D printing in new classroom

Posted at 5:42 PM, Oct 24, 2018

North Collins High School is putting the finishing touches on a brand-new "Makerspace", a high-tech room that is stuffed with state of the art equipment.

"[Students] can come in here, get challenges, do projects," Principal Brandon Wojcik said. "It's a way to demonstrate their learning. It's a way for them to understand that failure is OK."

The room has 3-D printers, a laser engraver and robotics equipment. Right now, students are able to use the space during study halls. The school plans to open the room to all subject and all teachers this year.

"It really transcends every content area," Principal Wojcik explained. "A teacher in social studies doing a lesson on the Civil War or doing a lesson on western expansion can come down here with a group of kids and maybe allow them to do a culminating project at the end of that."

"It really is a room that is not subject specific," science teacher Lisa Brosnick said. "There's learning going on and we can just call it learning. We don't have to add a class name to it and I think that's really exciting."

A group of students have already built a working robotic device and problem-solved a forklift addition. Others are learning about coding through mechanical devices that drive along tracks created with colored markers.

The space will also be used for the school's computer science elective and Girls Who Code Club.

Makerspace is an educational movement that is gaining popularity across the country. Funding for the equipment and technology was secured through a federal grant.

Students were excited to be using the different technology when 7 Eyewitness News visited the school Wednesday.

"I enjoy doing a lot of hands on things," Michael Petrus, a junior at the school, said. "I enjoy building stuff. It's a space where there's so much you can do."

Petrus is well versed in some of the new space's technology. He has a lot of experience flying drones and has actually helped teachers learn how to fly the school's drones allowing them to be used for different lessons.

That initiative is something teachers are hoping to encourage. Once students become proficient on different technology in the Makerspace, teachers plan to encourage them to show others how to use the different tools.

This style of learning is meant to complement the traditional classroom instruction the students already receive.

"There's is also a component that's been missing and that's kind of the problem solving, the resilience of kids," Principal Wojcik said. "And these maker spaces are a way to kind of provide that experience for kids."

"It's a great time to pause and say alright, what do you learn from that failure?" Brosnick said. "What do you learn from that mistake? What can you fix? That is one of the most fundamental skills out there in the workforce and in science in general."

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