has been driving across the country from Stanford University since June 29, the brainchild of six Institute of Design grads (one from Carnegie Mellon University) who realized that arts materials and the tech lessons necessary to use them have been disappearing from schools. They decided to bring these lessons as a thesis project to educators and kids all around the U.S., as well as parents who can use them at home.
This week SparkTruck stops for four days in Pittsburgh and, with the help of WQED
, brings what has been dubbed its "fab lab" and "build-mobile" to Oakland and the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.
"We know how big the maker movement is getting in Pittsburgh," says Jennifer Stancil, WQED's executive director of educational partnerships. The materials and lessons of SparkTruck, she says, are at "the innovative intersection between engineering, technology, and creative design." It offers everything from feathers and glue guns to laser cutters and 3D printers, aiming to serve 7- to 13-year-olds and their teachers and parents.
First stop on Sept. 12 is at WQED, where kids from local schools will make Vibrobots or stamps with images or logos related to their schools. On Sept. 13, educators will visit the truck's WQED stop to make similar laser-cut stamps and learn the SparkTruck teaching process.
On Sept. 14, everyone is invited to Schenley Plaza in Oakland from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to take part in WQED-sponsored free building workshops.
Finally, on Sept. 15 at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, there are free SparkTruck tool demonstrations from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a $5 laser-stamp workshop for parent-and-child pairs, for which registration is required.
WQED has been involved in STEAM education -- science, technology, engineering, arts and math -- for a long time through a partnership with the WBGH Boston-created Website, Design Squad Nation
, which is rolling out engineering challenges in schools in the spring, and through the recent launch of a year-long school program, Design Lives Here.
"When it comes to STEAM," says Stancil, "WQED is playing a role in making sure that it is alive and well in both the formal and informal educational environments."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Jennifer Stancil, WQED