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The Saturday Thing
Children are by nature inquisitive, inventive, and creative. Unfortunately, the mandate of Adequate Yearly Progress as set forth in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2002 (No Child Left Behind), as well as declining school budgets, leave little time for classes that encourage and nurture these traits in students. While most are technologically literate (as it relates to gaming and social media), few ever experience the opportunity for hands-on technology and engineering. Students rarely take the traditional "shop" classes to learn mechanical, electrical, and technical skills. They don't know how to "tinker".
The Saturday Thing, based on the very successful workshop of the same name started at MIT's Edgerton Center, aims to provide students with an environment that stimulates innovation: freedom to think and explore, a community of colleagues who are also innovators, equipment to enable innovation, and easily accessible supplies. The STEMAK program of the Juneau Economic Development Council will provide this environment to children young and old in its Juneau STEM office, opening its doors on Saturdays at no cost. There, participants will find materials, tools, and volunteer mentors, many with technical or engineering backgrounds. Kids can do anything they want, driven by their own curiosity and imagination. Projects might take a day or a year. Some projects may be built solely in the lab, others may also be worked on at home. Projects might include building a microgravity drop tower to do experiments in a low-gravity environment; others might include optics and light. One thing is certain, kids will be having fun as they explore and learn!
- Children of any age can attend, but those 8 years old and younger must be accompanied by an adult. There is no age limit.
- There is no charge to attend, but donations to support the program are gratefully accepted.
- Currently, there is no limit to the number of times any child can attend. This is to allow for long-term projects.
- All posted safety rules must be followed at all times.
- Projects are driven by the imagination of the kids, and all attempts will be made to accommodate any reasonable project idea. See below for a list of possible projects.
- The workshops are held at the JEDC STEM office, 603 W Willoughby Ave. The doors open at 10:00 AM.
- Registration each week for the following Saturday opens on Monday at noon. Go to The Saturday Thing registration to sign up. Attendance is limited to 8 kids. There is no fee to attend The Saturday Thing, but a suggested donation of $20 for each visit is gratefully accepted and appreciated.
- In order for your student to attend, you must sign and return the permission form (PDF). Either mail it in to the address on the form, or bring it with you on Saturday morning.
- Volunteers and Mentors: please volunteer a few hours of your time and share your expertise, passion, and interests with our young people.
- "Junk": You may have heard the expression, "One man's junk is another man's treasure". Don't throw it away! Ask if we can use it. Anything is considered.
Financial support: The Saturday Thing is almost entirely a volunteer effort supported by JEDC (donating the space) and community partners who have donated equipment and supplies. We will gratefully accept financial donations to help purchase supplies which may not have been donated.
This program is for our nerdy, geeky adult friends who want to express their creative selves but may not have the technical expertise or accumen to do it. We provide the workspace, tools, and in some cases materials, as well as expertise, to help you find your inner nerd. The ...after dark program usually occurs on the last Thursday evening of the month starting at ~5 PM, but always check the calendar or call to be sure. There is no cost, but donations are always welcome and appreciated.
For ideas, check out makezine.com and instructables.com