“Making” a Difference: Building Bridges Through Public Engagement

Lay Summary 

This project engaged and connected the public and selected partner organizations with Memorial University through the creation of a series of “makerspace” sessions. Makers are ordinary people who design and construct things for the intrinsic value and reward of making, modifying, repurposing, problem-solving, discovering and sharing (Kalil, 2013; Martin, 2015). For this project, professor David Gill and Dr. Gerald Galway organized and offered ten (10) makerspace sessions during the 2016 - 2017 academic year. Six (6) sessions were dedicated to intermediate students/teachers and four (4) dedicated to the general public. Through these maker sessions participants had the opportunity to design and fabricate artifacts of their choice by utilizing the Faculty of Education’s state-of-the-art fabrication equipment. The sessions were facilitated by pre-service and in-service technology education teachers, faculty members, and College of the North Atlantic instructors.

The general public were invited to makerspace sessions at the Faculty of Education’s Technology Education fabrication facility for two separate sessions, each of which involved two consecutive Saturdays - October 15/22 and October 29/November 5 respectively. At these sessions our six volunteer pre-service teachers along with faculty members, and volunteer technology education teachers from local schools helped members of the general public in designing and making artifacts of their choice. In addition to the actual design and making, our pre-service teachers and faculty members also facilitated sessions on safe use of fabrication equipment, fabrication software, 3D printing and CNC routing. These sessions were essential for some of the participants own projects. Several of the participants utilized the entire time available to make a number of different items, such as a wooden potato box, benchtop arcade cabinet, park bench, beard comb, and baseball bat holder among other projects.

The Intermediate school sessions were more structured and guided in nature. We were able to host six intermediate schools (6 teachers and approximately 30 students) over three two-day sessions. These sessions were held on October 14/21, 2016, October 28/November 4, 2016, and March 13/27, 2017. In each of these sessions the intermediate students were given the opportunity to design and make a solar powered charger for personal electronics (smart phones, audio players, etc…). The first day of the sessions involved a tutorial on electronics and soldering delivered by Howard Guy of the College of the North Atlantic. Students were then given the opportunity to practice their soldering skills. In the afternoon students were introduced to drafting and design. Our pre-service teacher volunteers facilitated a lesson on computer-aided design (CAD) using a piece of software called Sketchup. With this software the students designed a customized case and lid for their solar charger electronics. The first day concluded with a demonstration and workshop on how to transfer CAD designs to the 3D printer, led by the pre-service teacher volunteers. During the week between session days the pre-service teacher volunteers printed all of the cases and lids in preparation for Day Two.

The second day of the sessions involved the construction of the solar charger electronics, assembly of the electronics and the cases, and testing the chargers. These sessions started with an overview of the electronics kits we were using and an explanation of the step-by-step assembly guide the pre-service teacher volunteers had developed for the intermediate students. After this was completed each intermediate student was given their materials and began the process of soldering their kits together. Intermediate students worked in pairs and our pre-service teachers, volunteers, partners, and faculty members, provided support throughout the morning. When the intermediate students had soldered and tested their electronics they assembled the components in their 3D printed cases and re-tested their newly created device. This was the culminating activity for the sessions.

Faculty of Education
Public Engagement Accelerator Fund
St. John's
Mount Pearl
Conception Bay South
Newfoundland and Labrador
Industry Sectors 
Elementary and Secondary Schools
Start date 
4 Apr 2016
End date 
30 Jun 2017
Lead Organization 
Faculty of Education
Partner Organization 
College of the North Atlantic
Newfoundland and Labrador School District
Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association
Technology Education Special Interest Council