Shop Class of the Future … on Wheels

Computers & Mobile Education
Shop Class of the Future … on Wheels

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 The 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!

6 thoughts on “Shop Class of the Future … on Wheels

  1. MauiJerry says:

    I’ve been talking up a Mobile Maker Van here for quite some time.
    I have collected some pics in my Flickr set:

    There are a few examples like MIT’s Fab Lab trailer and a few over in Europe. One source of inspiration is the military vehicles – I have found several from mid-late 20th century. I have also found some references to similar things built for the Afgan/Iraq wars using more modern (eg CNC) equipment. One aspect of the mil vehicles that intrigues me is the reconfiguration. It would be really awesome to be able to outfit the van for electronics one week, and then metal work another.
    The Hawaii Robotics Organizing Committee (ROC) and BAE have built a cool van for helping high schools on Oahu in their FIRST Robotics competitions. The van has a cnc mill, band saw, lathe, welding setup, etc. Unfortunately it cant get to the other islands and is only used for a month or two (Jan/Feb) for FIRST.

  2. o4tuna says:

    I’ve been using a 45′ semi trailer as a shop/tool box for a couple years. I’m planning on seriously upgrading/re-organizing it over the next few months. Way too much stuff in there. I’m thinking about setting up a blog w/pics to track all the stuff I do to it…
    I’ve got some “interesting” ideas I’d like to attempt to implement.
    Like hanging some of the larger tools from the ceiling (9’6″ interior height) Or using a small car engine to power my generator/welder (I figure I could turn it much lower rpm than a small briggs or honda, with appropriate pulleys to get the freq. correct).

    1. jamesskaar says:

      if you’re good with hinges… you could fold down part of a side, a quick deploy extension floor, uv resistant tarps and steel conduit to tent the side, it’d be nice enclosed workspace.

  3. Willow Brugh says:

    I’m glad to have one more vector for maker abilities, but I do think that most of what makes a makerspace is the community. I wonder how they will address this with the high turnover rate of participants.

  4. The “How to Make a SparkTruck” Guide! | MAKE says:

    […] few years ago, some friends and I decided to take the spirit of Maker Faire and put it on a truck. The result was SparkTruck, a mobile creativity classroom that we’ve taken on two fun-filled […]

  5. Epic Effective Classroom Decoration and Design Resources @coolcatteacher says:

    […] Shop Class of the Future… on Wheels by Make Magazine […]

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Michelle, or Binka, makes . While at Maker Media, she oversaw 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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