PORTLAND, Maine — Elementary schools throughout the Portland Public Schools system will start utilizing more outdoor spaces thanks to a mobile classroom bringing STEM learning tools to kids in the district.
The new mobile classroom is being called the Mobile Makerspace, and Portland Public Schools STEM Coordinator Brooke Teller said the process took many months to come to fruition.
“COVID gave us an opportunity to see outdoor learning as an opportunity ... It’s something many of us have been talking about for a long time,” Teller said.
The Mobile Makerspace brings tools ranging in complexity from 3D printers and vinyl cutters to arts and crafts.
At Ocean Avenue Elementary School on Wednesday morning, a second-grade class experimented with the basics of engineering, finding out what materials can be moved farther by the wind.
Students assembled a four-wheeled car and taped either paper, tin foil, or plastic to the sail holder.
For Teller, engaging students this young, no matter the complexity of the STEM tools, gives them an opportunity they normally don’t see in classrooms.
“Some students will have the opportunity to go to a STEM camp over summer, but we want to make sure every student has a maker experience each and every year,” Teller said. “Being able to work with others to solve problems is super important for our world and the world they will lead us through in the future so I hope they walk away with those skills.”
The Mobile Makerspace will stay at Ocean Avenue Elementary School, teaching children different STEM tools up until the last weekend of September. Then, it will go on to its next school.
Before the end of the 2022-2023 academic year, Portland Public Schools hopes to bring the Mobile Makerspace to eight schools and eventually to Peaks Island one day.