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SparkLab Mobile

How would you stuff the spirit of MAKE and Maker Faire into the space of a taco truck, so you could drive around and deliver making to kids everywhere?

This is a question that a design team at Stanford wants to answer. Last fall we met product designers Prat Ganapathy, Eugene Korsunskiy, and Aaron Peck, who got to know one another through Stanford’s d.school. The d.school is an interdisciplinary program we’ve visited and like as one great model of what learning environments could look like in an educational future not bogged down by the mind-numbing culture of standardized testing and budget cuts now plaguing too many schools in the United States.

After spending the day at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire, and talking to us about our own earlier interests in a mobile making vehicle, they grew even more enthusiastic. Since we met them, their team has doubled in size, adding Jason Chua from mechanical engineering, Kathayoon Khalil from the ed school, and Diane Lee, another product designer. These six students, under the name “SparkLab,” have banded together to explore how to share their love of making through a mobile program. They are hoping to get an old delivery truck, outfit it with maker tools, and drive from school to school, teaching kids that they can have an impact on the world by becoming active makers rather than passive learners. They “want kids to build knowledge and confidence, one laser-cut project at a time.”

If you want to help them realize their dream to inspire more kids to make, check out SparkLab’s project on Kickstarter and kick in a few bucks.  You’ll be in good company: David Kelley, founder of IDEO and the group’s advisor, enthused “It’s really exciting to see you bringing this creative confidence back to the classroom… this is the kind of learning that really sticks with kids.”

And if your school or summer program is within driving distance of Stanford, you should let them know how excited you’d be to have the truck they create visit you!

Michelle "Binka" Hlubinka

Michelle, or Binka, is the Director of Custom Programs for Maker Media, overseeing publications, outreach, and programming for kids, families, and schools. Before joining Maker Media in 2007, she worked at the Exploratorium, in Mitchel Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, and as a curriculum designer for various publishers and educational researchers. When she’s not supporting future makers, including her two young sons, Binka does some making of her own, most often as a visual artist.


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