In the "Making the Block" mini-mester first offered in January 2016, Middle School girls explored making, design thinking, and circuitry as they re-created the south block of East 92nd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues using "up-cycled" materials such as cardboard boxes, fallen tree limbs, and straws. Additionally, girls learned about architectural concepts, scaling, soldering, 3D design and printing, and how to incorporate electronic components.
The tools now available in our makerspace (added as part of our recent schoolhouse expansion) have the potential to transform this project going forward. We envision girls creating a scaled 3D rendering of the Nightingale-Bamford schoolhouse that looks exactly like our building. They will use a laser cutter not only to precision-cut the building out of chipboard, but also to cut the floors and furniture and etch a re-creation of the Nightingale-Bamford sign that hangs outside. Sewing machines will allow students to replicate curtains and even miniature uniforms, while the power tools—such as screwdrivers, drills, and saws—that are now available to us will allow for proper assembly of the individual cut pieces, channels for wiring, and detail work. When combined with motors, expanded options in electronic components (such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi) may be used to facilitate the addition of working elevators. The possibilities for this project have expanded to the limits of our students' imaginations, as we are longer limited by the tools we have. We are excited about the new projects that the makerspace makes possible!