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What's Happening in:  Bella Vista :  Hawthorne 

Help turn a physics lab at Academy at Palumbo into student MakerSpace

Physics instructor Klint Kanopka has a few things – the support of his school community, a fundraiser on and the idea to install an engineering lab at The Academy at Palumbo, a public magnet high school at 11th and Catharine.

And after about only two weeks of planning, Kanopka has already raised more than $2,000 to outfit the school’s burgeoning lab – or MakerSpace – with a 3D printer from MakerBot as the centerpiece.

A MakerBot, the contraption he's gunning for.

A MakerBot, the contraption he’s gunning for.

What he needs now, however, is a little more help.

Kanopka said the thought to create a MakerSpace at his school dawned on him when he recently heard another instructor discussing a similar concept during EduCon at The Science Leadership Academy in Center City.

“I heard what others were doing and how it was gaining traction in the community. I realized I was doing some of the same things in my classes,” Kanopka said. “But we didn’t have all of the resources.”

Without any funds in the school’s budget to bring his brainchild to fruition, Kanopka and his students immediately took matters into their own hands.

The Academy at Palumbo, 11th and Catharine

The Academy at Palumbo, 11th and Catharine. Pic from GreatPhillySchools

For a few days now, they’ve been clearing out a storage room at the academy and have been soliciting donations for woodworking and metalworking tools, workbenches, tool boxes, raw materials and the 3D printer.

Once it’s complete, Kanopka hopes that the lab will serve as a space where curious and motivated students interested in art, architecture and engineering can solve problems, explore and bring projects to life. Interested students would use the lab to prototype and create items like robotics parts, catapults, cell phone cases, chess sets and other items to give back to the school and community.

The soon-to-be MakerSpace, pic provided by Kanopka

The soon-to-be MakerSpace, pic provided by Kanopka

“Growing up, I always loved making things. I was always building,” Kanopka said. “I want my students to be able to do the same. Having a space like this really opens up the field and gives them the ability to try stuff out.”

The possibilities for students would be endless, Kanopka added, especially for those looking to further their education beyond high school.

“One of the most important things to colleges is when students have experience doing things that are cutting edge, especially if they’re going into designing or architecture,” Klint said. “It’s not just about a GPA. School’s are going to look at that experience and it will set these students aside.”

Slowly but surely, the lab is taking shape, but Kanopka says they need all the assistance they can get. The printer was just funded as of last night, but visit Kanopka’s fundraising page here for a number of other items they need to outfit the lab.

- Jessica Bautista

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