Armed with carpentry skills and high-tech tools, 10 girls will spend a week in June building out the interior of a trailer for Gizmo-CDA.
[june 9, 2021]
The trailer, which the girls hope to complete June 14-18, will take STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) projects to area schools and community events.
Funded by STCU in collaboration with Idaho STEM Action Center and Idaho Out-of-School Network, the 7-by-14 trailer shell “is a complete blank space that we’ll be filling with project supplies, books,” and even a laser engraver, said Barb Mueller, Gizmo co-founder. “It will give us new opportunities to be a school resource, a neighborhood resource, and a community resource.”
Mueller said there’s a critical need to help children discover the magic of science, technology, engineering, and math. Teachers often lack the resources or background to make STEM fun and creative, or are simply too busy with other requirements.
Peer-on-peer mentoring can help. The same girls, ages 12 and older, who will use CNC routers and other tools to build cabinets, drawers and other interior components next week will also have the opportunity to become STEM ambassadors as the trailer hits the road.
From its base on the campus of North Idaho College, Gizmo has central location that’s stable and easy to find. Yet, the non-profit long has desired the ability to reach more remote communities. The trailer gives them that capability, Mueller said.
“It’s one thing to say, Gizmo wants to serve the people of Shoshone County,” Mueller said. “It’s another to say, Gizmo can come right to Shoshone County, park on any street, and have everything we need right there.”
It is part of an effort by the Idaho STEM Action Center and Idaho Out-of-School Network and partners to create and outfit 16 mobile, pop-up makerspaces that can be deployed to rural and underserved communities statewide. In addition to the Gizmo trailer, STCU is funding another for the East Bonner Library District.
In addition to Gizmo and STCU, partners in the statewide effort include: University of Idaho Extension 4-H Youth Development; Idaho State Department of Education; Idaho Division of Career & Technical Education; Idaho National Laboratory; Micron; Optum Idaho; Sparklight; and TrailersPlus.
Gizmo-CDA was founded in 2014 by Barb and Marty Mueller, who previously ran a North Idaho machine shop specializing in large-format cameras. The Muellers won an Academy Award for science and engineering after designing a 3D camera that was light and simple enough that astronauts used it to film their lives aboard the International Space Station, as well as images of the Earth from space.
The makerspace provides creative support and instruction for all ages, including an array of after-school programs, field trips and project-based summer camps for students; workshops for adults; STEM-related professional development for educators, creative entrepreneurs and others; and access to tools and books to help with any creative project.
A not-for-profit financial cooperative with six branch locations in North Idaho, STCU is a longtime supporter of education and lifelong learning. STCU’s relationship with Gizmo-CDA started when the credit union featured the makerspace in its 2016 Here for good campaign, focusing on creative learning.