Southfield Public Schools unveiled a new makerspace at Adlai Stevenson Elementary School, with help from the United Way for Southeast Michigan’s Tech United team, a group of local CEOs and IT professionals committed to closing the digital divide and providing STEM opportunities for students,
The newly renovated room is meant to foster creativity and help students to develop their science, technology, engineering and math-related interests through hands-on, interactive learning opportunities. The makerspace consists of a Lego wall, a stationary tool wall with kid-friendly tools, 3D printers and a laser engraver.
Southfield Public Schools Superintendent Jennifer Green said she was eager for the students to experience this new space, where the possibilities are endless.
“As an African proverb says, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ and Stevenson is that village for many of our children within Southfield Public Schools and within the communities of Southfield and Lathrup Village,” she said.
As a mother of two, Sarah Harpootlian said, Stevenson has been her village.
Harpootlian said that her son, Matthew, has overcome so much during his time in the school district and continues to overcome challenges with the help of caring and dedicated teachers who have “always worked with him where he’s at,” Harpootlian said. “Everyone is talking about technology and how it’s bringing our kids into the future. Right now, it’s healing Matthew in that space.”
The Harpootlians donated 12 chairs to the makerspace before it opened to the students, which allowed Matthew to get a sneak peek at the space, and while testing out the space, he didn’t want to leave.
This project has been in the making for over three years, since Stevenson became one of five community schools included through United Way Southeast Michigan. The dedication was made possible through Tech United’s partners, Ford Motor Co., Comerica, and Rocket Cos., as well as from a private donation. Volunteers provided over 450 hours of labor to bring the makerspace to life.
Principal Tonya Hickman shared that the area will be used for various afterschool activities, in the STEM curriculum, and as a space for students to visit to channel their creativity.
“The most important thing when we think about our children is they have to have places to call home,” United Way CEO Darienne Hudson said. “And it’s one thing within our families to provide a home for them. But their school should be their home as well. And you look around, it’s cozy. It feels good. And guess what? Our children were smiling, and no one had to say, OK, kids, you’re gonna smile on three.’ They just came in smiling. And that’s the love that is in this building. And that comes from leadership. That comes from inspiration. That comes from vision. So, we’re just so honored to be a part of this partnership. It has been a long time coming. We have fought through this pandemic like no other, but we are here today, and we’re celebrating.”
By: Kathryn Pentiuk | Southfield Sun
Photos: Patricia O’Blenes