What do you call it when a 5-year-old boy in a family experiencing homelessness declares he wants to be a scientist when he grows up? Here at Family Renew Community, we call it MakerSpace.
Every Wednesday afternoon, children who are living with their families in the cottages of the Holly Hill Residential Campus gather in the onsite Learning Center for some STEAM-y fun. STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. These subject areas are brought to life in age-tailored ways for the kids by J.C. Deobil, the coordinator of Family Renew’s MakerSpace project, and the fellow volunteers on her team.
Whether it’s a collage or a catapult, the MakerSpace kids are always building something, including their problem-solving and creative thinking skills. They’ve come to understand more about gravity and motion by building their own maze runs for marbles, introduced themselves to robotics by playing with mini bots called Hexbugs, and tried their hands at engineering by designing towers from toilet paper tubes. The cost of materials is covered by a grant from a local foundation that seeks to remain anonymous. Plans are to expand the MakerSpace project to the Daytona Beach and DeLand residential campuses.
The project has caught the interest of the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach campus. Young women from the group volunteered at a recent MakerSpace session, serving not only as hands-on helpers but also as role models.
“Most of the children that come to us don't know what they want to be when they grow up, but here is an example of how we are nurturing them and it is helping make a real difference,” observed Family Renew Community Executive Director Tony Deobil.
To learn how you can help with MakerSpace or other wraparound services for the children at Family Renew Community, please email Development Director Denise O’Toole Kelly.