Wye River Upper School Plans for a MakerSpace

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A $100,000 grant from Baltimore’s Middendorf Foundation is making a new MakerSpace project possible for Wye River Upper School students at the Centreville school.  The Middendorf MakerSpace will be located at 318 S. Commerce Street in Centreville adjacent to the School’s main facility.  The new space will further WRUS’s mission to serve bright high school students with learning differences and will inspire creativity, hands-on instruction, and innovation which are hallmarks of the School’s program.

“I compare a MakerSpace to what we used to call shop years ago,” explains WRUS Executive Director, Chrissy Aull.  “It was largely woodworking for the boys and home economics for the girls.  But today, a MakerSpace is a gender-neutral space for both low-tech and high-tech production skills including 3D printing and cutting, garment design, woodworking, and culinary skills.  The emphasis is on developing students’ ability to identify a need or an opportunity, then design and develop a solution through the collaborative process.”

WRUS students put the finishing touches on their 3D printer which will be placed in the new MakerSpace.

The motivation for the MakerSpace project comes from the School’s commitment to continue offering hands-on opportunities for students. An example of a recent school project which gave students a real-life learning platform was the construction of a storage space on campus. Led by social studies instructor, Leon Schwartz, the project began in September with design, permitting, estimating and purchasing of lumber and materials. “The students collaborated to fulfill a school-wide need for more storage. In the process, they used Math skills and learned about town regulations. A MakerSpace will give us the ability to do more projects like this,” said Schwartz.

WRUS Chair, Alexa Seip gives all the credit for the Middendorf MakerSpace to the Middendorf Foundation, whose grant will fund the renovation of the new space.  “Without Middendorf’s generosity, we would not have been able to provide this exciting opportunity for our students.  Middendorf Foundation is enabling WRUS to continue to provide a responsive and relevant high school experience for very deserving kids,” said Seip.

Middendorf President, Craig Lewis shared his enthusiasm for the project. “We are proud to partner with the WRUS and congratulate them for the work they are doing for young men and women of the school.”

WRUS Art and Technology Instructor, James Martinez will lead the students and faculty through the initial design process to determine what tools and equipment will be installed.   One piece of equipment they know will occupy the new space is a 3D printer which WRUS students have built themselves. Martinez is particularly looking forward to the woodworking options.  “The students were heavily involved in the creation of our props and set for our school play, The Wizard of Oz,” said Martinez. “This year we had to contract out the wood cutting, next year we will be cutting the backdrops ourselves.”

Wye River Upper School is an independent high school for bright students with learning differences such as ADHD or dyslexia. For more information, please contact: Katie Theeke, Director of Admissions and Communications at 410-758-2922 or email katietheeke@wyeriverupperschool.org. www.wyeriverupperschool.org

…because not all great minds think alike.

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