Portland Public Schools Unveils New Mobile Makerspace to Provide All Elementary Students with STEM and Technology Learning Experiences

portland mobile makerspace

Joined by students, educators, and community members, Portland Public Schools held a ribbon cutting last week at Rowe Elementary School for their new Mobile Makerspace which will bring immersive, project-based STEM and technology learning experiences to all Portland elementary students.

The Mobile Makerspace will travel to elementary schools for two-week visits this fall and spring. Once at the schools, students along with their classroom teachers will visit the Mobile Makerspace for mini or immersive experiences depending on their grade level. It will provide every PreK-5 student in Portland Public Schools with at least one design/innovation/engineering experience each year. One project example involves sail cars. Based on grade-level standards, students will be exploring properties of materials as they try to determine the best material, the best size, and the best shape for their sail. During their experience, students will employ the Engineering Design Process to guide their work – Asking – Imagining – Planning – Creating – Experimenting – Improving.

“We want our students to be scientifically and ecologically literate as well as technologically capable problem solvers. We want our Portland Public Schools students to not just be consumers of technology but creators. Through rigorous and engaging science education, our students will learn to be caring, active participants in the world and become equipped to comprehend, analyze, and create solutions to global issues. The Mobile Makerspace is one way that we are addressing this vision,” said Portland Public Schools STEM Director Brooke Teller.

At the ribbon cutting, a group of 5th grade students got to explore some of the high- and low-tech gear and opportunities contained in the Mobile Makerspace, including the 3-d printer, technology projects, books on STEM-related topics, and creative building opportunities.

“I am so excited and honored to be the mobile makerspace coordinator for Portland Public Schools. I get to bring STEM opportunities and engineering design challenges to Portland’s elementary students. And I get to do this at a time when research is telling us that our young learners should be engaged with science and engineering practices,” said Mobile Makerspace Coordinator Karen Shibles. “In addition to a focus on NEXT GEN science and engineering standards & practices, there will be an emphasis on those key 21st Century skills, also known as the 4Cs: critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity.”

Portland Public Schools, in partnership with the Foundation for Portland Public Schools, worked with the community to design, build, and outfit this mobile lab. The trailer was secured from On the Road trailers, Blue Planet Graphics installed the artwork, and Casco Bay High School alum Charlie Hindall made the artwork.

“We believe that these mobile makerspace experiences will be a spark that ignites a student’s further curiosity and engagement with all that science, technology, engineering, and math have to unlock for them. We believe that these experiences will be brought back into the school buildings, and in conjunction with a district wide science curriculum, students will receive the joyful and just science education they deserve,” said Teller.