Senior citizens get a kick out of LHS Maker Space

Nov 9, 2017 by

Published in the November 8, 2017 edition

COUNCIL ON AGING MEMBERS Jack Bittner (left) and Fred Santangelo (center) were given an overview of Lynnfield High School’s 3D pen by Sebastian Fadel during the Maker Space open house last week. (Dan Tomasello Photo)

By DAN TOMASELLO

LYNNFIELD — Local senior citizens were given an overview of the latest technology during a visit to Lynnfield High School’s Maker Space last week.

The high school’s Maker Space first opened three years ago. The Maker Space is located in the LHS media center, and includes high tech and low tech equipment that students use to create different projects.

In an interview with the Villager, LHS Library Media Specialist Janice Alpert said she invited local seniors to the Maker Space because she wanted to get the community involved with the creative space.

“One of my goals this year for the Maker Space is to do more community service and community outreach,” said Alpert. “I reached out to the director of the Lynnfield Senior Center about how we can have students create things for the purpose of helping Lynnfield seniors.”

In addition to assisting local seniors, Alpert said she wanted to “establish a relationship between Lynnfield seniors and Lynnfield High School students.”

“This is our first step by basically doing an open house with students manning the Maker Space’s different stations,” said Alpert.

Alpert gave a brief overview of the Maker Space before the senior citizens in attendance began experimenting with the room’s technology.

“A lot of people don’t know what a Maker Space is,” said Alpert. “It’s a place where you can make things. If someone has a certain interest in how things work, the Maker Space allows people to explore that interest and passion. It might go with the curriculum of a certain class or might not. It might be for a community service project or you might want to make something to address a need.”

Alpert said the Maker Space tries to build on home economics, auto shop and wood shop classes that many people have taken in the past. Similar to those classes, Alpert said the Maker Space teaches the importance of collaborating and working together to find solutions to different problems.

“When I was in school, these were hands-on classes,” said Alpert. “I think a lot of the skills people were using in those classes are very similar to the modern maker movement.”

There were a variety of different stations set up during the Maker Space open house. Students showcased the space’s 3D printer station as well as a 3D pen station. There was a Silhouette Cameo station set up as well. As part of the demonstration, high school student Aidan Reardon used the Silhouette to create bookmarks to give to seniors attending the event.

The other stations that were set up included a Green Screen that was run by junior Joe Fabrizio. Junior Justin Nardella used a Makey-Makey kit, where he used bananas connected to circuits in order to replicate piano keys. There was an HP Sprout on display as well. LHS student Alex Correa Ramirez used the Maker Space’s Little Bits station to make doorbells and flashlights.

One of the most popular stations was the Sphero Robotics station. LHS students Nick Bisconti and Jonathan Luders created a maze and showed seniors how to use the little robot balls to navigate the course. The robots impressed Council on Aging Chairman Fred Santangelo and local senior Frank Walsh.

Bisconti noted he has been using the Sphero Robots in his physics class.

“It’s pretty great using physics with these Sphero Robots,” said Bisconti.

Sebastian Fadel, who ran the 3D pen station, said the Maker Space is “a great place.”

Alpert said the Maker Space’s design process is “interactive and user-centered.”

“If a student or a teacher is interested in something, they can come up with a problem and try to figure out how to solve it,” said Alpert. “It’s very empowering. If there is a problem, you have to understand it, define it and imagine it. Maybe you will build a prototype and if it doesn’t work, then you will have go back and try it again. That is the whole philosophy behind the maker movement.”

In addition to the different stations that were set up to raise awareness about the Maker Space’s technology, junior Nina Dunn ran the Sending Smiles station.

“Sending Smiles is a charity project started by two sisters who are in their early teens,” said Dunn. “They were with their cousins and they decided to help sick children in hospitals. They decided to make these little postcards that have jokes, stories or messages that children can read when having a bad day. Their goal was to have children smile.”

Local seniors lined up to create funny messages for sick children.

“They get sent throughout the country and are distributed to different children’s hospitals,” said Dunn.

Alpert told the seniors the goal of the Maker Space open house was to find a way to help seniors either by making things they need such as the door bell and flashlight that were created or by teaching local seniors different skills.

“These students are amazing,” said Alpert. “They have so much to share. I would like to figure out how they can work with you, and how you can learn from them and how they can learn from you.”

Senior Center Director Linda Naccara said the open house was an eye opening experience.

“Everybody was very interested and certainly very engaged,” said Naccara. “The kids are great. We have learned a lot and we are going to go back and figure out how we can use this at the Senior Center. I think making the flashlight and the doorbell is something they would be interested in learning about. Everything was very interesting.”

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