Blennerhassett Middle School to showcase students’ maker space work

Blennerhassett Middle School maker spaces.
Blennerhassett Middle School maker spaces.(Blennerhassett Middle School)
Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 2:48 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Blennerhassett Middle School is offering maker space programs for its students, including an entrepreneurship class and a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) class. The work the students have produced in those classes will be showcased in an open house on April 22.

As part of their class work for the entrepreneurship lab elective course, students created and now manage and operate an internal store called Bobcat Biz. The students also design and create the items for sale in the store, which include t-shirts, pencil cases, water bottles, bumper stickers, and key fobs. Students participate in all stages of the process, beginning with creative conception of designs and following through to the creation, sale, and marketing of the items.

In the class, students have access to 3D printers, a laser printer, cricut machines, sewing machines, shirt presses, jewelry making equipment, and more. Sarah Kendall, who teaches the class, said one of the primary benefits of the class is that it encourages skill building.

“A lot of it has come down to their ability to learn new skills. We have key presses and cricuts and laser cutters, things I’ve had to learn to do. And then they’ve done a lot of collaboration with each other in order to figure out how to make the product, and then how to make it efficiently so we can get several things made at a time, and how to go about marketing and producing so their product is successfully sold,” Kendall said.

In the STEAM lab elective, students in each grade level have largely written their own curricula, focusing on robotics and more. These classes also have access to 3D printers and other tools and equipment.

“With the change in job markets and the importance of students being prepared not only with college readiness but with career readiness, we wanted to make sure we were starting them in middle school so they’d be prepared in high school and beyond,” said Principal Melanie Arthur.

The school plans to expand the classes next year and make them available to even more students. Items made for the Bobcat Biz store will be available for sale, and orders for the items are being processed currently.

The maker spaces were made possible through a grant from the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation.

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