One of the most visible and successful of the Portola Valley Schools Foundation’s recent efforts is the popular Maker Labs at both schools. Dozens of generous donors raised $145,000 at the 2015 Spring FANFare fundraiser to build the two labs and they were immediate hits. Since then, ongoing grants from the PVSF endowment fund have expanded the projects that our students can complete with Maker Coach Sarrie Paguirigan. For the students who use the labs, building cardboard arcade games, coding robots, printing prototypes of inventions, drawing away the stress of the day, sewing and more can be the most memorable part of the day.
A few additional grants to the Maker program since then include:
Between classroom assignments and Maker Lab projects, the district’s 3D printers can’t keep up with demand. A 2019 grant from the Portola Valley Schools Foundation’s Endowmen Fund allowed Design and Innovation Coach Sarrie Paguirigan to purchase a new one, enabling more and better printing jobs across both schools.
The new printer, which offers two colors instead of just one, will be essential for the 3rd grade wind vanes science project, 4th through 6th grade math game contest pieces, 7th and 8th grade SOMA cube puzzles, and Tesselations for the STEM program. In addition, Paguirigan wants students to use it to design an historical chess set and hieroglyphics for Social Studies, models of DNA or molecules, stop-action movies for Language Arts, and snowflakes for mathematics.
“It’s going to be so exciting,” she said, “to see how the students use the new 3D printer to foster their creativity and hone their problem-solving skills.”
Maker labs: STEM. Science. Technology. Engineering. Math. … And sewing? For some, the engineering process is about coding, steel, wood or wires. For others, it’s all about fabric, thread, colors and fluffy, white stuffing.
Sewing is a hands-on process that presents spatial, measurement, mathematics and construction challenges just like building: Create the parts, figure out how to put them together, try and fail, then fix the problem and complete the project. It’s a natural fit for Maker Labs like the ones at Ormondale and Corte Madera.
With a 2019 grant from the Portola Valley Schools Foundation Endowment Fund, Design and Innovation Coach Sarrie Paguirigan bought two Singer Simple Portable sewing machines – one for the Maker Lab at each campus – boards to lay out the fabric, chalk to mark it up, pins to secure it, rulers, seam rippers, proper scissors and more. Add in two donated machines and both Maker Labs are now fully supplied.
“Sewing is a useful life skill,” noted Paguirigan. “And it also provides a way to relax.”
Lunchtime Maker Club
In 2017, the Portola Valley Schools Foundation Endowment Fund granted the money needed to expand the popular lunchtime Maker Space program. From the day the labs opened, they were were an instant hit with students lined up outside the door to get in. But they weren’t specifically funded and the demand for supplies outstripped funding. With the grant money, STEM teacher Jeanne Rusch purchased 3D printer filament and software, paper for the ZINK printers, Wonder Workshop extensions for the Dash and Dot robots, science kits, screwdrivers, wire cutters, pliers, wrenches, drills and more.
“It is a continually evolving space,” Rusch wrote in her grant application. “We are constantly needing to reevaluate.”
Precision Digital Cutter and Software
With a grant from the Portola Valley Schools Foundation Endowment Fund in 2017, Maker Coach Sarrie Paguigarian purchased a subscription to the FabSchool Maker Studio Classroom and Cameo 3 Digital Fabricator. These tools allow students to design, engineer and prototype any kind of 3D model in the same way professionals do in the workplace. The students use the software and cutters to create projects that dovetail with and enhance classroom learning as well as in the Maker Club and lunchtime/recess programs.
Shelter in Place Maker Projects
When the Coronavirus pandemic hit and school districts worldwide sent children home for “distance learning,” parents across the globe wondered how to keep their kids busy day after day. In Portola Valley, Maker Coach Sarrie Paguirigan jumped in with weekly Maker Club assignments. It began with a dare to build the biggest and longest Rube Goldberg setup they could manage, followed by an assignment to make a paper chair that could support the weight of at least one large stuffed animal. After that, she challenged her students to create a recipe to end hunger and take a “stinky” photo (active imagination required). After the District’s Physical Education teachers added in their chalk-up-your sidewalk and home obstacle course days, parents and kids alike breathed a sigh of relief. Boredom averted.