By ROBERTO DE OLIVEIRA & KATIE MAI
Through Holland House, down the stairs to the basement, in the old woodshop room, a space will be found where all forms of creativity and free-flowing ideas are encouraged and welcomed. “It is a huge playground for us to make cool things,” Daniel Wise, a teacher from Tufts University, stated in the midst of the room, humming with liveliness from the students who come after school for a chance to experiment, invent and build.
Tufts University and Malden High School have worked on many projects together, including one from 2005 in which Malden High School students built a giant trebuchet with the assistance of an engineering graduate student from Tufts University. Also, many Tufts students have been MHS student teachers, as well as many of them going on to become hired teachers here at the high school.
Last winter MHS Principal Dana Brown discussed with Brian Gravel, full time lecturer at Tufts University and Director of Elementary Education, about converting the woodshop into a makerspace. Loving the idea, the people at Tufts applied for and received a grant called “engineerings Inquiry for all in Nedlam’s Workshop.” Gravel described that “the goal of this grant is, turn the wood shop into a makerspace- with digital technology like 3D printer, robotics, simple circuits, woodworking tools (like some of those that already exist), sewing machines and other textiles.” From this conversion the people at Tufts, according to Gravel, “hope this new makerspace becomes a place where students and teachers at Malden High learn to make things of personal interest or that make the Malden community better.”
Currently in the old woodshop, activities involve forming lego robotics to pulling old items apart in order to construct something entirely new. Gravel mentioned that ultimately they “hope to run small workshops on specific things- like making musical instruments, or creating an interactive painting- and focus on group projects- like growing vegetable hydroponically for a winter’s farmer’s market- to generate “buzz” about the makerspace”.
The highlight of what is down in the woodshop is the 3-D Printer. It is a device worth $3,000 -- which is considerably fair for what it can do -- that has the ability to take a 3-D graphic design created in a digital program (i.e Tinkercad), process it, and physically create the desired design. On average, most items take about an hour to be produced, however it also does depend on the complexity and how large the design is.
With the desire to broaden this after school makerspace into something more, Wise and his assistant Riley Meehan, a graduate at Tufts University, had been working on the details into making an engineering elective class that would hopefully take off for next semester. The goal of the class is aimed towards “build[ing]” solutions; that is, have people find problems in their daily lives or in other peoples’ lives and come up with a solution they could physically make in order to solve it.
Gravel hopes there will be a lot of excited and interested MHS students who want to take the class, and believes “the students at Malden High School are amazing” and anticipate “[they] are excited to see all the things [they] can learn together this year.”