EatGreenDFW -
Public Schools as Makerspaces

Jennifer Clements and Kala King discuss possibilities for mutually beneficial collaboration among teachers, residents and Garland public school students.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 
--Margaret Mead


Things don't always turn out the way we plan and this is not always a bad thing.  About three months ago I declared my intention to get a group of Garland folks together to create a makerspace here in Garland beginning in January. I think that's what I did today, even if it was "by accident".  I realize that maybe we already have makerspaces all over our community.  We just are not using them yet to the full advantage of the people in our community.  Collectively these places are known as our Garland ISD.

For those who may not know, a makerspace (sometimes called a "hacker space') is a community-operated workspace where people with common interests can meet, socialize and collaborate. To quote from an article about the Dallas Makerspace that I wrote in July:  "A Makerspace is many things.  It is a place where art and creativity meet and blend with science.  It is a place where the American local economy is being rebuilt one creative entrepreneur at a time.  It is a place for dreamers and builders of all ages.  It is a place for families and singles.  People interested in Makerspaces (judging from the crowd of about 25 people on the tour I took of the Dallas Makerspace last summer) represent a melting pot range of ages, colors and cultures."  

Makerspaces are places that make tools and expertise available to creators, artists and inventors who might have the vision and the concept but lack the technical expertise (and/or the money for the tools) to bring the vision to fruition.  


With the Magic of Monarchs, Watson Tech Is Evolving into a Makerspace.

Today I invited Jennifer Clements, a teacher at Watson Tech, one of our magnet schools here in Garland along with Kala King a talented nature photographer and Monarch rescuer to my home.  Both Jennifer and Kala are Garland residents.  I had several reasons for this meeting:  1) I wanted to secure use of some unused space in the Watson Tech greenhouse for Loving Garland Green to plant seedlings.  2) I wanted to introduce Kala to Jennifer because I was hoping that Kala might be able to photograph some of the experiments with milkweeds and monarch and also Loving Garland Green's installation of the very special butterfly garden. 3) I was hoping to learn more regarding the milkweed/Monarch experiment that is being undertaken at Watson Tech this spring and 4) I wanted to present and discuss the installation of a very special butterfly garden at Watson Tech.

Connections and More Connections

It's interesting how some things and people connect--like magnetic atoms.  Dr. Watson from Midwestern University in Wichita Falls, Texas is directing this study with monarchs and milkweed at Watson Tech. ("Watson Tech" is no relation to Dr. Watson although Dr. Watson does have a son who attends Watson Tech.) The project mentioned is being undertaken by one of his graduate students at Watson Tech under his direction. Dr. Watson is a herpetologist.  Kala King is very interested in reptiles and has even had pets such as pythons.  At one point in her life she considered studying to be a herpetologist.  During our discussions today, Kala mentioned that she wanted to make a poster using her fabulous nature close-up of the Monarch's life cycle.  Turns out that Watson Tech has a new poster making machine. Kala will design the poster and provide the photographs and Jennifer will use the technology to make two posters:  One for Watson Tech and one for Kala. Scholastic Magazines (Remember The Weekly Reader?) has expressed an interest in Kala's nature photography.  If they purchase her nature posters, Kala would share some of the proceeds  with Garland ISD.

Loving Garland Green and the students at Watson Tech are not left out of these connections and benefits either.  Loving Garland Green will get to test the first combination of a straw bale/hugelkultur garden bed design.  We think this design will be especially beneficial for areas prone to drought.  The students at Watson Tech will get to help us build and monitor this garden.  They will also work with Dr. Watson and his graduate student on the milkweed/Monarch experiment.  In all this the students get first hand experience and knowledge of what it means to innovate and invent--by doing it themselves and by working beside experts and also ordinary people (members of Loving Garland Green) who are putting their ideas into action.

Saturday, January 16, 2016