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Makerspace aims to diversify learning opportunities

A 3D printed model of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts in the Luther College makerspace.

A 3D printed model of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts in the Luther College makerspace.

Natalie Nelson (‘19) | Chips

Natalie Nelson (‘19) | Chips

A 3D printed model of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts in the Luther College makerspace.

Natalie Nelson, Staff Writer

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Students and professors from across disciplines filed into the Center for the Arts (CFA) last Friday Oct. 21 night for a look at the new makerspace. A makerspace is a place to express creativity with a variety of tools. Located in Room 210 of the CFA, Luther’s new makerspace is open to all students.

Associate Professor of Theater and Campus Costume Designer Lisa Lantz started the makerspace. The idea for the makerspace was a product of her sabbatical research two years ago, and she has worked on creating the space since then.

“When I was researching things that happened in the costume world, what I kept coming across was that people talked about working in makerspaces,” Lantz said. “I wasn’t familiar with what a makerspace was, but the more I researched them the more I was drawn to that idea of making things in an common area where you collaborate.”

Lantz said this opportunity for collaboration is important to the efficacy of the space. Community interaction is a major component of the overall experience.

“I describe it as a common area for people to come together to make things with their hands,” Lantz said. “Part of the essential quality of a makerspace is that you are open to what other people are doing and you share the work that you are doing.”

Lantz explained that makerspaces have already developed in K-12 education as a means of preparing students for the shifting labor market.

Natalie Nelson (‘19) | Chips
Associate Professor of Theater Lisa Lantz’s son, Grey, plays with some 3D printed toys.

“It is a huge thing in K-12 right now, but that’s because they are gearing up for this new workforce,” Lantz said. “The new jobs that are going to be happening are in the technology world, and so if students are prepared to think in those ways, they’re going to be much more prepared for the workforce.”

Since students currently in school are receiving this kind of education, Lantz believes it is important for Luther to anticipate the arrival of those future students.

“I think Luther could be poised to be a leader in this type of teaching and learning process if we incorporate the makerspace model into the way that we teach here at Luther,” Lantz said. “I think it could be on the cutting edge. I’ve worked with other colleges and studied what they’ve done to develop this, but there’s a lot of our peer institutions that are just starting to discover this, too. As it is pushed in K-12 [education], our students are going to come in expecting to have access to a 3D printer or a laser cutter, and so it would behoove us to pursue this kind of education.”

The Luther makerspace currently has a 3D printer and Lantz hopes to get a laser cutter in the near future. The makerspace is home to many other resources and materials for students to use. This includes paints, varieties of paper, yarn, a microprocessor, a soldering station, design software, and sewing machines. Having a variety of tools is important to Lantz because students are encouraged to work kinesthetically.

“I think that a lot of young people are losing that education of how you make things; how you use a hammer, how you sew something,” Lantz said. “And the way that your brain develops as you are making something with your own hands is something that’s really essential to that sort of technology work.”

Garret Baumler (‘20) attended the open house, and was particularly excited about the prospect of being able to use a 3D printer.

Natalie Nelson (‘19) | Chips
Jillian Hazlett (‘18) tries the 3D printing design software in the makerspace.

“The fact that we have a 3D printer is pretty cool, but when you add that any student can learn how this software works, that opens up creative opportunities for everyone,” Baumler said.

Lantz agreed that the inclusive creative opportunities are beneficial for the development of relationships across departments.

“What I’m most excited for is for it to start to reach out across campus, and for it to take hold,” Lantz said. “What I want to see is connections to start taking place across campus. I would love for a physics student and a theater student to come up with a project that they work on because they saw what they were doing in the space together. What I really want to happen is for transdisciplinary work to happen where we see new things created out of collaborations.”

Matthew Espey (‘19) used the space last year before it was completed to rehearse for the production of Eurydice and thought the experience was unique. He commented on the collaborative energy in the room.

“We were using the space to create living, breathing art, and that was a space that was open to us whenever we wanted it,” Espey said. “Other people were working in there at the same time we were. It was just a space of creation where ideas were free-flowing and, as an artist, it was immaculate. It’s just this conducive, open minded, welcoming space that is just a melting pot of different ideas and mentalities. I’m just excited that more people are able to use it.”

The makerspace is open any time the CFA is open.

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