Tehama County Makerspace: A Sanctuary For Tech-Minded Children

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Like most seniors, Red Bluff High School student Ericka Nabarrete, 17, had been pondering her future after graduation. With a passion for arts, she had little hope that she could craft a career out of her talent for drawing. It wasn’t until a good friend suggested exploring Makerspace that she began to discover her talents in graphic design, currently a fast-growing industry with a large demand.

“I knew nothing coming into it,” said Nabarrete, now one of several ambassadors of the program. “It gives me a perspective of how students feel coming in, like a deer in headlights. It helps them to know I was exactly where they are at and how far I’ve come,” she said.

Makerspace is a technology-based field trip destination for local schools, is nestled inside the Tehama County Department of Education building in Red Bluff, CA. The program utilizes videography, electronic circuits and specialized computer programs to teach children science and technology lessons in an interactive environment.

The “maker movement” has been gaining momentum. Schools across the country have built Makerspaces – essentially hands-on learning centers – within libraries, classrooms and other locations. Tehama County Makerspace was a dream project and was facilitated by Michelle Carlson and Maureen Clements with the support of Tehama County Superintendent Charles Allen. Carlson’s husband, Jim, a skilled carpenter and craftsmen, created a majority of the space’s décor and lighting, which has a rustic-modern esthetic that was chosen for its ability to foster creative thinking, says Carlson.

art-915-ms2“When you come here it doesn’t feel like you’re in Tehama County anymore,” says Project Specialist Syerra Eickmeyer. “It makes the kids really feel like they can do anything here … they get to experience different things that they normally don’t have access to in their classrooms.”

Makerspace has a second purpose of providing resources and tools to the program’s ambassadors so they can explore their passions and create at will. These ambassadors often work on special projects for the community free of charge to gain work experience. Projects have included marketing posters for the Tehama District Fair and book bag designs for a Los Molinos library fundraiser.

“I’ve seen so much growth in our ambassadors, even in their personalities,” says Eickmeyer. “Students have really come out of their shells and have become more confident in areas that they weren’t particularly confident in prior to coming here and working in the Makerspace.”

The program hopes to grow and eventually become an after-school destination for children within the community. Trial workshops held this summer were very successful and showed potential towards this new path, says Eickmeyer.

Workshops were open to anyone who wanted to participate and included coding classes and a LEGO robotic activity where parents and children collaborated in groups to create short movies using stop motion capture. The LEGO movies can be seen on the Tehama County Department of Education’s YouTube channel.

Most workshops are based on highlighting professional careers in art and media and relaying the skillsets needed to participants. The summer LEGO workshop, for instance, was based off the film “The Boxtrolls” and highlighted the process of claymation, says program ambassador Maryn Spangler, 18, a recent Red Bluff High School graduate.

art-915-ms3“It gives students a “big dream” perspective,” Spangler says, adding that participants can hone skills from Makerspace workshops and eventually, with hard work, find themselves in creative “dream” jobs.

Makerspace teaches children all the things that you don’t get an opportunity to learn in the classroom, says Spangler, “You learn how to love learning again.”

To schedule a MakerSpace classroom or group field trip visit from any location, call the Educational Technology Department of the Tehama County Department of Education at (530) 528-7310. 

Makerspace Activities:

Tehama County Makerspace activities are aligned with Common Core State Standards and built around the notion that learning can be meaningful and FUN! Current activities include:

  • Electronics using Squishy Circuits & Paper Circuits
  • Graphic Design using the full suite of Adobe products
  • Animation using scratch.mit.edu
  • Coding using Digital Sandbox, Code.org, & Arduino
  • Creative Writing
  • Engineering from catapults to bridges
  • Videography using a green screen, iPad Videos, iMovie, Adobe After Effects, & Premiere Pro
Christina Gutierrez
About Christina Gutierrez

Author Christina Gutierrez is a mom and Tehama County resident. She is passionate about her community, multi-platform storytelling, and finding ways to connect with other mothers.

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