Tuesday, January 17, 2017
The Voice of the Hack Shack
The Voice of The Hack Shack
By: Jarrod Bernier
Last year I was asked to join the Hack Shack, so this year I gladly accepted that invitation. I've been in the Hack Shack for almost a semester now, and what a ride it's been. I, unlike many of the Hack Shack employees, was not recruited for my aptitude in technology, but rather for my public speaking ability. I quickly stepped into the unofficial role of Student Voice in the Hack Shack.
It started when I was the sole representative of the Hack Shack at the Open House, where parents came to see what their students were taking for courses. The next thing I did was talk to the administration about making the Hack Shack course count for a computer credit. The newest thing that I was asked to do was to assist in giving a presentation at the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference
I graciously accepted the invitation and was very excited to get to see what the conference was all about. When the day arrived and I finally got there, I was a bit intimidated. I've been pretty casually involved in my high school makerspace and here I am surrounded by the people who actually work in this field. It also struck me as interesting that I was one, if not the, only students there. But once I got over the initial shock I strapped myself in for a fun and informative day.
The first activity on the agenda was the Keynote speaker. The day I attended it was Jenifer Fox (Shown Below) who gave the Keynote speech. For me it was a very aggravating speech. She spoke a lot about the maker movement and what you can accomplish, but she did so in ways that, at least to me, seemed to not quite make sense. One of these points was that you don't need a tools to have a makerspace. Which I thoroughly disagree with, I think an analogy is in order. If you were a pool player without a pool cue or a pool stick, are you actually a pool player? Despite all of the comments she made along those lines I still thought it was a very informative speech. I still learned a lot about the movement itself that I hadn't previously known.
After the Keynote Mrs. Pearce and I actually attended a second speech by Jenifer Fox. This covered the maker movement as a whole. But what I actually got the most out of was when, near the end of her speech, she transitioned the speech into a Q&A. Here I got to hear some of the ideas, hardships, and questions that other Makerspace's representatives had. Some of them were very interesting questions that I myself had never thought about. I also got some insight into different sides of problems that I had never seen before.
The rest of the day was more presentations and more speakers, but one interesting presentation that I attended was the presentation of a new software called FableVision Learning. It's a software that has three different programs all for educational purposes. The first is a publishing software, meant to help elementary schools "publish" large amounts of their students books. However this provides the student/parent with higher quality books that will last a much longer time. The second program is an animation software that teaches kids about the basics of animation. It even has three built in difficulties that allow for students to progress at their own rate. And the last program was a design program for 3D paper models. This was what I was most interested in. It allows for students to easily design things like Pop-Up cards, and buildable shapes. It was really easy to use and could be used to save the 3D printer for the jobs that actually need to be plastic. They were very interested in getting my opinion on things because they were, at the time, in the process of redesigning a high school friendly version of each of the programs. The programs were all pretty easy to use and well designed and the presentation was actually a lot of fun. After the presentation they offered me a free trial of all of the programs and all I had to do was email them, which was awesome!
Then came the moment of truth, we were going to present. The presentation we were giving was about the story of our Hack Shack. It was titled "Vast Amounts of Testosterone & Plenty of Sharp Objects" (which I'll have you know does not apply to me). The presentation went amazingly well and we even got quite a few people. I had a great time presenting and I even got asked some pretty interesting questions.
I had a great time at the conference. It was a great learning experience and a really huge honor to be invited. I got to meet so many interesting people, all of whom knew way more about makerspaces than I did.
If you ever get the chance to go, take it! It really was one of the most fun and interesting things I've ever been to!