STEAM Camp at Space Lab
STEAM camp enables kids to tinker, learn, and make!
21st century learning standards require students to use different types of software, troubleshoot, and iterate. All of these skills are part of what students learn as they play, tinker, and make. Communication and collaboration are also an important part of our camp, which keeps kids coming back for more- with friends in tow!
Our instructors are trained educators with more than ten years of experience.
Sarah Margalus is a certified teacher and maker. She spent over 10 years in the classroom, and is now teaching teachers about making, STEAM, and literacy.
Jay Margalus is a professor at DePaul University, where he teaches in the School of Design. He is the Faculty Director of the DePaul University makerspace IRL, where his research explores emerging technology, game design, and tinkering.
We host the class at our non-profit makerspace, Spacelab. When you register for camp, you join our community of makers. Spacelab is a non-profit makerspace with a focus on community engagement and maker-centered learning. We host an annual Maker Faire, community workshops, LEGO robotics programming, Teacher Tuesdays- professional development for educators, and other events. This network of people works to engage the community and support one another’s making efforts.
Designed for students ages 6-10, no experience is necessary.
Our core beliefs:
- Everyone can make!
- Making brings people together and improves our human experience. Our makerspace and STEAM camp aim to bring people together and learn from one another.
- Technology can be about creating, not just consuming.
- Part of learning is learning what doesn’t work. Children build a sense of agency when they keep trying and find success, even when a task may seem frustrating at first.
- Creativity is a skill that can be practiced and honed.
Through this camp experience, children are exposed to technology and making through experiences in circuitry, programming, and simple digital fabrication.
- Testing non-conductive and conductive materials in a variety of ways
- Making simple circuit crafts that light up (like paper cards or felt-patches)
- Using simple circuits to make art-bots
- Coding games and programs in Scratch
- Using code to create simple art designs
- Use code to connect with an Arduino
- Learn to use TinkerCAD for 3D designs
- Create a digital image and make a physical representation of it (vinyl sticker or 3D print)
(A more in-depth look at what is learned during camp experiences)
Through play, students learn about how electricity is passed through a circuit, electrical current, and conductivity.
Students learn about two different types of circuits: series circuits and parallel circuits. They put this learning to use to design simple crafts that light up. As students work, they determine which type of circuit is best suited for their project. This making experience allows for students to not only make their own circuit, but also consider the benefits and constraints of each type of circuit.
Students are encouraged to communicate with others and share their designs throughout each session. Instructors act more as coaches or facilitators, encouraging students to try-it-and-see and network with others to answer questions.
Students also use an existing circuit or create a new one that includes a motor to make a moving bot. Students learn about the relationship between the motor and movement of the bot, as the art bot scribbles it’s path. This is a beginning step into robotics, as robots often use motors and circuits, accompanied by more advanced systems and use of sensors.
Students learn about sequences, looping (iteration), conditionals, variables, and boolean logic as they create animations in Scratch. Sometimes students may not know how their work links to computer programming, so the instructors take time to point out how different parts of the software relate to other computer programming software.
As students learn programming, they have opportunities to try out other programming software to make a face or connect to an Arduino.
Digital Fabrication is a fancy way of saying making something that was once digital into a physical product. Digital fabrication is becoming faster, cheaper, and easier with new technology- which students learn about in this part of the course.
Students tinker and design in TinkerCAD, software that can be used to design 3D printed objects. A different software that pairs with the vinyl cutter- another digital fabrication tool- will also be introduced. Students choose which software they’d like to use to make their own physical object.