Makers welcome here: Skyline expands annual gaming event

Allen Porter and     keep up with ...
Skyline English teacher Allen Porter and science teacher Dusti Vincent follow along with Just Dance. Photos by Jo Mathis.
Gabriella Porter, who'll attend Bach Elementary next year, attended the event with her father, Allen, a Skyline teacher.
Gabriella Porter attended the event with her father, Allen,  and enjoyed playing with a Sphero robotic ball..


– Jo Mathis
AAPS District News Editor

For several years, Skyline High School held an annual gamer event specifically geared to the geeks.

This spring’s event expanded to include a term you may be hearing more and more in Ann Arbor Public Schools.

The recent Gamer/Maker Event was a chance for students who like to work with their hands to see just what’s available in the new “maker space” section of the iCommons media center.

“We don’t do shop class anymore in education, and we’re finding that kids really want to do that experiential stuff, “ said Sara Duvall, lead for media and technology at Skyline. “They want to produce things and share things, and this is a great way to do it.”

Skyline students this year have been encouraged to stop into the iCommons at any time to get involved in a “maker project” such as 3D printing, in which students can create designs and then print them out in plastic, electronic music tools, photography, spinning, or whatever the featured activity of the week might be.

Employees of such places as the Ann Arbor District Library and GameStart now spend a couple of hours at the school every day working on maker project with students.

Steve Teeri, a maker tech at AADL, says making is simply learning by doing or creating, so it’s been around forever.

“It’s tinkering,” he said. “It’s learning with your hands as opposed as just through the books.”

Teeri said the AADL has many “maker” items available for check-out, and he brings some to Skyline for the students to use.

“It’s a great way to get kids interested in learning as opposed to being pushed towards learning, and it makes them more competitive in the current world,” he said. “It’s a good way to show people that inventing, or electrical engineering or these different things that might seem kind of abstract or that someone else does them, are in fact young students and people of all ages may be able to do.”

Duvall said the annual event—which includes food along with all sorts of games—has grown to include a wider range of students.

“Initially we started it to involve the students who didn’t really participate in other things; they like this kind of geeky stuff,” she said. “And now we pull in a much wider cross-section because other kids are saying, `Oh, wow. This is lots of fun.’”

Steve Teeri shows some of the hands-on activities available in the maker section of Skyline's iCommons.
Steve Teeri shows some of the hands-on activities available in the maker section of Skyline’s iCommons. On hand were a portrait station, Arduino Robots, 3D printing, and more.
Students compete in a "Super Smash Brothers Project M" smash-off.
Counselor Ben Graham  (left) competes in a “Super Smash Brothers Project M” smash-off.
Anne Drozd of the Ann Arbor District Library shows Sara   how to spin.
Anne Drozd of the Ann Arbor District Library shows Sara Duvall how to spin.

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