The Pali STEAM Shop is a makerspace with a mission of social justice; to provide equitable access to the tools of innovation. Our vision has been to open a classroom that pays homage to traditional shop class, aggressively embraces innovation, and ensures that underrepresented students are active, engaged and leaders in the program.
Meet the Makers at Palisades Charter High School
1. How is your vision for a makerspace innovative?
Our space has blended Southern California car culture with Silicon Beach technologies, offering our student body a hybrid learning environment as diverse as Los Angeles. In the STEAM Shop students from across Los Angeles work on projects as divergent as DIY water filters to narrative VR films. We recognize that CTE offers a differentiated pathway to engineering and we embrace CTE’s rigor and relevance.
2.What are you most excited to get started on this summer?
We are most excited for our students to return to campus! The CTE announcement came after our school year ended and many of our student leaders had already left on their summer adventures. In their absence, we have been cleaning our outdoor area, reviving it from a furniture graveyard to an open, outdoor classroom. As the new school year starts in four weeks, we are prepping for new CTE classes to dive into the generous prizes. How will they use the SparkFun Tinker kits? What will be revealed through the Printrbot 3D models? What role will the Microsoft Internet of Things supplies play in our room and on our campus? Staff have ideas, but we can’t wait to see what our students will dream up!
3. Can you describe the people who have been involved in your build out?
Our build-out has been staffed by our alumni and students! Every day this summer we had a team of 5-10 volunteers cleaning out the “graveyard” to transform it into an outdoor classroom area. They sorted through old engines, broken brakes, crumpled door panels and other auto/tech debris, to find the pearls worth keeping. Much was recycled, but many pieces of utilitarian and historical value were rescued for future projects. Our alumni are eager to reopen a full auto shop, repair local cars, and even transform one of our mid-70s classics into a lowrider!
4. What has been the most challenging part of the summer build out thus far?
The biggest challenge was the sheer volume of items to move. The outdoor area had been used as furniture graveyard for over a decade. The number of items that needed to be cleaned, identified, valued, and sorted was nearly overwhelming. In fact, we still have work to do, but we were able to complete the lion’s share and clear enough space for our STEAM Shop and Environmental Science classes to expand.
5. Have you made adjustments to your original plan since starting your build out? If so, can you describe how you have changed your plan and what sparked the change?
The biggest change in our plan is an adjustment of the build out of the auto shop area. As we cleaned the outdoor area we realized more work would need to be done to make our auto shop ready for formal instructional use. For example, installing a lift ended up being more complicated (and expensive) that first estimated. We are undaunted and moving forward with the auto learning space, but at a slightly slower pace that planned.