Any way you look at it, students have taken a hit since schools were shut down in March 2020. Some kids have been doing at-home schooling, with no access to the more hands-on aspects of education, for a year and a half. Even for those who thrive when learning online, that’s one thing that’s hard to replicate.
This past summer, University of Delaware’s MakerGym makerspace — which itself had been sitting idle for months after launching just before the COVID-19 shutdowns — collaborated with the Red Clay Consolidated School District, giving 41 of its students the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship and making things over four one-week cohorts.
The program exposed students to engineering, computer aided design (CAD), computer science, robotics, fashion, agriculture, landscape architecture and art. It was designed specifically to help students make up for hands-on experiences they had to miss due to COVID-19.
The program also included three design challenges where teams of students got to use MakerGym’s laser cutters, 3D printers and other tools.
These cohorts were one way UD and Horn Entrepreneurship could put the new makerspace to use during its summer downtime, especially now that students are allowed to use it while following the university’s COVID-19 protocols.
Now that the school year is in full swing, MakerGym is at the heart of the Make It Happen Challenge for UD students. The academic year-long competition aims to turn student ideas into early-stage startups, with grant packages values at over $25,000. The challenge launched in the spring of 2021 as an all-virtual cohort of UP Cycle Design, Hydra Cultivation Network and Coral Connectors, and launched its first hybrid full-year cohort in September.-30-