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Mobile Makerspace Has Local, National Support

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Mobile Makerspace Has Local, National Support
Posted on 04/25/2022
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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.

The Foundation for Portland Public Schools is a nonprofit organization that strives to be a catalyst for increased educational opportunities, achievement, and equity for all Portland Public Schools students and staff. The Foundation’s work is closely aligned with the Portland Promise, the comprehensive plan of the Portland Public Schools.

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest and most diverse school district. About one-third of the district’s approximately 6,500 preK-12 students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 50 languages. 51 percent of the district’s students are white and 49 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.

The Les Paul Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that inspires innovative and creative thinking by sharing the legacy of Les Paul through support of music education, recording, innovation and medical research related to hearing.

PHOTOS: (Above) PPS STEM camp in action - summer 2021. (Below) An example of a mobile makerspace used in the Monroe, Oregon schools.   
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