Making and doing has been an integral part of Waring’s approach from the early days of the school when a student’s day might include taking care of the goats, woodworking, baking or typesetting, as well as academic work. The opening of the Waring Industrial Park (WIP) this fall is a natural extension of this original vision of experiential, creative learning and gives students space and tools to work on their own projects, as well as the opportunity to participate in new initiatives such as First Lego League.
The opening of the WIP coincides with a second year in residence at Waring Downtown, our Cabot Street storefront. This fall, I wanted to bring some making energy from campus to downtown Beverly. With the encouragement of Tim, Robine and my colleagues, I decided to start an after-school club for local children age 7-10, inspired by the Duct Tape Network, a program I heard about through the Boston Mini Maker Faire.
The Duct Tape Network, which was conceived at the MIT media lab, is a series of fun, hands-on maker clubs that encourage children to use cardboard, tape, wood, fabric, LED lights, motors, and more to bring their stories and inventions to life.
This fall, 13 local children participated in weekly, hour-long Duct Tape Network meetings at Waring Downtown. I led the club with 4 Waring students, who opted to help as part of the Monday afternoon elective program. We experimented with cardboard linkages and built wobble bots and propeller cars, added light to our projects with LEDs and created cardboard automata.
Second grader Bella said, “I liked the Duct Tape Network because it was fun and I could make things with electronics and cardboard, and I liked working in downtown Beverly. I am proud of making a robot dog and a night light.”
As a final project, we created cardboard arcade games inspired by the short film Caine’s Arcade. Children made their own versions of skee-ball, pinball and basketball, as well as some totally unique creations. At our final meeting we invited parents, siblings and friends to play the games and win prizes.
The seven weeks of Duct Tape Network passed quickly, but I’ve heard from parents that the creative energy has just moved from the Waring Downtown storefront to the kitchen table as students continue to make things at home. We will have another session of the Duct Tape Network beginning in mid-January and are looking for more young makers to join us, so if you know any, please send them our way!