Learning new skills, bringing ideas to life

Searsport District Middle and High School makerspace receives $20,000 grant

Wed, 10/28/2020 - 3:45pm

SEARSPORT — The Searsport District Middle and High School makerspace, the STEAM Lab, has been awarded a $20,000 Innovation Grant from technology and energy infrastructure company Siemens.

According to RSU 20, in a news release, Siemens recently completed extensive HVAC and energy retrofit work in the RSU 20 schools, and Market Manager Tom Seekins saw an opportunity for Siemens to partner with the RSU to support STEM education efforts of the STEAM Lab Makerspace. 

“By providing this grant, it is our hope that when others ask about the RSU 20/Siemens relationship, we’ll be able to point not only to the energy retrofits and HVAC improvements, but to our support of RSU 20 Innovation and STEAM education as well,” said Seekins, in the release. “Simply put, this is what our important education customers expect when it comes to partnership, and through the Sustainability Education program, Siemens can deliver.” 

RSU 20 was the only school district in Maine and New Hampshire to receive a grant from Siemens this year. 

The STEAM Lab is a dedicated space with tools and supplies where students learn new skills and bring their ideas to life. It is used both by students for individual projects and hobbies, and by teachers with their classes. The STEAM Lab not only helps teachers create more rigorous and effective instruction through hands-on experiences, it supports more authentic and engaging learning experiences for students.

Several high school students form the STEAM Lab “Crew,” working on personal projects, mentoring younger students around STEM interests, and leading workshops and presentations on MakerEd for teachers around New England.

The $20,000 Innovation Grant from Siemens will support this work for several years to come, helping the STEAM Lab purchase new equipment and supplies, supporting travel for student-led workshops and presentations.

Capwell and her students are excited about what they will be able to do with this grant. Plans for the year include a service learning project sewing scrub caps for donation to the local hospital, a STEM mentoring program with HS and MS girls, and a host of other creative Makerspace projects. 

Currently, the STEAM Lab engages the school community by: 

Providing support, tools, materials, training, and workspace for teachers as they engage in project-based lessons and units with their classes. 

Supporting individual and small groups of students as they pursue independent projects in areas such as computer programming, electronics, robotics, multimedia production, design, small-scale fabrication, etc.

Sharing the importance of Maker Ed and empowering student leadership through local, state, and regional presentations and workshops where STEAM Lab students are the primary presenters.