“I Made That”: Celebrating Roosevelt Middle School’s Maker Class
When it comes to traditional academic classes, students usually know what’s coming when they walk in the classroom. But when students enter Roosevelt’s Maker Class, possibilities open up in countless ways. As 7th-grader Geovany puts it, “There are no limits.”
Launched last year and led by teacher Carl Barone, the class gives kids the space to create, design, and build. “We’re proud to have one of the most built-out Maker programs [among Oakland’s middle schools],” says Roosevelt Principal Cliff Hong. From woodworking to printmaking to electronics, the young makers tackle projects that, Barone says, “create a sense of empowerment through hands-on work and thinking about design. Working on these projects, students feel they have a choice about the world around them and the ability to think deeply and make creative decisions.”
“I feel like it’s important to have opportunities to create like this,” says Geovany. “Our other classes, science or math or humanities or history, these are the required courses, but in Maker Class you have the choice to develop your own sense of creativity and develop that kind of thinking.”
“In some ways, Maker Class is more challenging than other classes,” says 7th-grader Endia. “We’re in control of our own choices and we challenge ourselves to show people what we can do.”
“We have a lot of freedom, which helps bring out our creative side,” agrees 6th-grader Deantae. “It’s all about making new things by using compasses, glue guns, all these different materials. If you want to make things when you get older, or be an artist, you’ll be able to use the skills you learned in Maker Class.”
While they talk a lot about the energy of the creative process, they’re also proud of the finished products. It’s a pride that lives outside school walls, with the kids bringing projects home to show their families. “I like showing my family and friends that I’ve created something and successfully built it the way I wanted to,” Geovany says. “You have this feeling of I made that! And when someone says it looks good and works the way it should, I’m proud to have made something that can benefit everyone. It’s not just for me.”
Endia says, “Showing other people is very rewarding because my family likes to hang up my stuff, and my baby brother will come and say, ‘Oh, I like it, sister!'”
Help Roosevelt’s Makers Make More!
Barone is seeking grants and funding to bring higher-tech tools into the Maker Space, from computers to 3D printers to laser cutters. The class is also looking to partner with arts, maker, and technology organizations to bring mentors, master class opportunities, and funding to the space. If you’re interested in supporting Roosevelt’s young creators in any of these ways, please email Mr. Barone.
This story is part of the March 2017 installment of the Ed Fund’s “Celebrating Our Schools” series. Don’t miss our other stories on Roosevelt’s Teach to One personalized learning program and college and career counseling.