Isaac Bayer sanded a piece of plywood on Thursday, Dec. 5, after making a sign with the 6-inch-by-6-inch piece of wood using a laser engraver at Jamestown High School.

Bayer said he thought members of the SkillsUSA Chapter at the James Valley Career and Technology Center should have a sign with their name on their school locker like JHS athletes do. So he set out to make them using tools and materials from the Makerspace at JHS.

On the back of each sign, he is placing a magnetic strip that will be used to attach the sign to the student’s locker.

Bayer planned to create 20 signs.

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Besides the laser engraver that Bayer was using, the Makerspace at JHS is stocked with equipment including 3D printers, a foam cutter, sewing machine, Cricut maker, Dremels, hand fabrication tools and more. The equipment can be used to design and create what students and staff need, whether it’s for a class project, a club or a personal project.

“The Makerspace is a room dedicated to anywhere between basic to advanced creation,” said Jordan Montgomery, the lead Makerspace technician. “Hence the word maker. It’s where students come in and learn to create and use the tools in order to create different projects.”

Bayer, a sophomore, is also a Makerspace technician, one of eight students at JHS who has had training on the equipment in the lab. The eight technicians, who staff the lab at different times throughout the school day, are also in the Service Learning class at JHS, which requires each student to create a project in service to others. Bayer’s project to make the wood signs for SkillsUSA Chapter members is his Service Learning project, he said.

Fifteen to 25 students regularly use the Makerspace, Montgomery said. There are teachers and other students who occasionally use it, and he’d like to see that number grow.

“Anyone who’s here at the high school has access to the Makerspace,” Montgomery said. “As long as we have a technician here they can use all the equipment freely.”

Adam Gehlhar, JHS principal, said the Makerspace was added to provide access and training on tools and technology that integrate the design process into the school’s STEM courses.

“Making, designing and creating requires a high level of synthesis of content to apply STEM knowledge to real world scenarios,” he said in an email to The Sun. “The makerspace was also added to support student individual interests and passions in STEM areas. “

Two STEM Innovation and Integration Grants from the North Dakota Career and Technical Education Department helped establish and enhance the Makerspace, in 2017 and 2019. The grants required a match from business and industry, Gehlhar said. A number of local businesses matched the funds, which in 2019 provided "new technology, professional learning and curriculum that enhances the students’ STEM and CTE literacies, and aspirations toward these growing career and entrepreneurial fields," he said.

Ultimately, the Makerspace provides an environment to learn and create.

“This is a great way for kids to be creative, to learn problem-solving through creative means and not just in necessarily a school project but also if there is something that they personally want to work on or do, finding ways to design and problem solve,” Montgomery said.

Equipment can only be checked out by staff or faculty. Supplies and equipment are free to use.

Montgomery noted that the Makerspace isn’t just for students interested in science or math or technology.

This is an opportunity for students of all backgrounds,” he said. “We use STEAM as our kind of pushing off point for what the Makerspace is, but it really it transcends traditional breakdowns of curriculum and you can use it for just about any class you can think of.”

Asher Olson, a freshman, is a Makerspace technician this semester and plans to be a technician again in the 2020-21 academic year.

“It started last year (his interest) when my brother made something in here with a laser printer, he printed something from one of his favorite video games and I thought that was really cool,” he said. So he spoke with Montgomery about becoming a technician this semester “and here I am.”

He said more kids should use the equipment and says it can be used for things like printing atomic models, designing something for art or making clothing with the sewing machine, for example.

“It really has a lot more uses than people see,” he said of the Makerspace.