MHS Promotes Technology Center at Mini Maker Faire

Among the artisans, entrepreneurs, and innovators displaying their work on Saturday at the Cape Cod Mini Maker Faire at Cape Cod Community College was a group of Mashpee High School students and teachers representing the school’s Technology Center of Excellence.

From behind the department’s booth, drafting communication and computer animation teacher Salvatore Nocella expressed excitement over the opportunity to promote Mashpee’s programs to students from outside districts.

“There are people coming up from other districts asking about school choice and the opportunities available for these [technology] programs,” he said. “A couple of people have said, ‘I’d like to come to your school.’ ”

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He tended to fairgoers who stopped to comment on the display. The work, created by students, ranged from plastic objects produced with the school’s 3-D printer to woodcarvings created with the ShopBot, a woodcarving machine that operates with computer software. A laptop displayed the technology center’s website, featuring animation that was created using industry-standard software that students use in class.

“This is what my daughter does!” Harwich resident Richard Glasheen said, motioning to the 3-D printer work on display. He explained that as a part of her internship at George Washington University, his daughter, Megan Glasheen, is using a 3-D printer to develop artificial human vocal chords. Currently, lab workers have produced plastic vocal chords with the printer consisting of five microns thickness—but if they are able to reduce the thickness to three microns, he said, they may be able to use the plastic products as human implants.

“It’s a cool thing,” Mr. Glasheen said. “It’s cutting-edge.”

The high school’s was not the only booth displaying 3-D printer products. Nearby, Christopher Stroh entertained passersby with mini robots created using 3-D printers and computer numerical control (CNC) machines.

“I sell educational robot kits,” he said, adding that his work is sold internationally through his company, Eastham-based Rocket Brand Studios, and used to teach programming at younger grade levels. He motioned to his 9-year-old son, Charles M. Stroh. “For example, little Charlie over here is starting to write code.”

Charlie affirmed that he knew “a little bit” about computer programming, but he also created a robot himself using a CD as the base. When he brought it to school to show his friends, he said, “It was pretty awesome.”

“It wasn’t until today that I knew there were others like me,” Mr. Stroh said of his work as a maker.

He was not alone.

Jason A. Tripp, a Hyannis resident and rising senior at Becker College in Worcester, was attending the fair as a maker himself.

“I thought I was the only one,” he said of his hobby of producing objects with his 3-D printer—which he built himself using old printer parts that were “collecting dust” in a professor’s classroom—as well as costumes and accessories for Cosplay, short for “costume play,” including a chain bag that he created link by link.

“I would love to sit around and teach people about what I do, talking about different ways of doing things, improving upon it and working together,” he said.

That was the intended message of the event, explained Jerry Thiboutot of Mashpee, the president of the organization called Cape Cod Makers responsible for organizing it.

“These people come from a lot of different backgrounds,” he said. Makers, he elaborated, can be artists, engineers, architects, technology enthusiasts, and anyone who has a passion for creation. The goal of the maker movement on Cape Cod is to establish a “maker space” where they can work and share ideas, tools, and equipment.

Currently, the organization offers workshops and classes for makers who are interested in learning more about the movement, forming relationships with other makers and acquiring new skills.

“They take the class, gain access to the tools, and they [hopefully] start a business together,” Mr. Thiboutot said.

The movement is growing throughout the country and has already begun to inspire new businesses.

“Are you familiar with the Square Reader?” he asked, referring to a credit and debit card reader that can be inserted into a smartphone and operated through an app. “That was prototyped out of a maker space in California.”

Proponents of the movement support a combination of science, technology, engineering, art, and math, also known as STEAM education, over the recently popular STEM model. The inclusion of the arts showed at the event: alongside techies and engineers were stamp makers, jewelers and crafters of all kinds.

Technology and engineering teacher Michael P. Looney, who was also representing the MHS technology center at the fair, said that Mashpee, too, is embracing the arts by purchasing a laser engraver for the technology center, which would allow students to engrave original designs and artwork.

“You can take any design and engrave it into almost any material—glass, plastic, wood,” Mr. Looney said. “Then we can tie business and marketing into technology and art [classes].”

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