The Foundation for Portland Public Schools (FPPS) is thrilled to announce that the Les Paul Foundation is the latest group to support the creation of a Portland Public Schools Mobile Makerspace. The makerspace will provide hands-on science, technology, arts, engineering, and mathematics (STEAM) programming to Portland elementary school students, starting this summer. A makerspace is a collaborative setting for making, learning, exploring and sharing that uses high-tech to no-tech tools. The Portland Public Schools Mobile Makerspace will ensure that every elementary school student in Portland will have access to STEAM designing, engineering, problem-solving, and building experiences.
“Our goal with the Makerspace is to provide every PreK-5 student in Portland access to this mobile lab,” explains Brooke Teller, the Portland Public Schools STEM Coordinator. “With ten elementary schools, the ability to outfit ten makerspaces is financially unattainable. A mobile trailer that carries equipment such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and more will eliminate the need for any one school to outfit a full, high-tech lab. All of the planned curriculum will be aligned to the Science and Engineering Practices of the Next Generation Science Standards.”
Andrea Weisman Summers, the Executive Director of the Foundation for Portland Public Schools, said, “Today, STEM education is more important than ever. Jobs in STEM fields are growing much faster than the rate of all jobs and pay better as well. I believe that engaging experiences like the engineering and design challenges that will happen in the makerspace can be the hook that helps students enjoy school and see themselves as builders, designers, and capable users of technology. I am hopeful that this can also be a step to addressing disproportionate representation of women and people of color in STEM careers.”
The Foundation for Portland Public Schools is raising the funds needed to create and staff the Mobile Makerspace in its pilot year. In addition to the Les Paul Foundation, the initiative is funded to date by the Brick & Beam Society of the United Way, the Irving Foundation, Unum, Greenbacker Group LLC, the Lennox Foundation, the Maine Space Grant Consortium, and the Perloff Family Foundations.
The plan is to have the mobile makerspace operating by July to be able to be used by students in summer school.