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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!
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.