Feb. 23 2017 09:44 AM

Impression 5 unveils new youth maker space

THURSDAY, Feb. 23 — Impression 5 Science Center is hoping to inspire the next generation of engineers, inventors and architects with its latest addition. Think Tank, a new youth maker space, was officially unveiled Monday.

The space, which took over a year to create, is designed for children ages 9 to 14 to be able to create and share inventions and practice scientific behavior in a way that is accessible. The museum’s Youth Action Council was involved in the planning process, choosing things like color scheme and design of the chairs.

“They wanted to make sure that the space was a representative of them and other kids,” said Micaela Balzer, director of innovation and learning. “They felt that they were creating a space for other kids to feel welcomed immediately when they came into the space.”

Some students on the Youth Action Council shared their thoughts and experiences before Monday’s ribbon cutting. Angela Calabrese-Barton, an education professor at MSU who collaborated with the design team at Impression 5, said that maker spacers are important because they provide a way for kids to engage with STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in a way they don’t often get in school because of curriculum demands and lack of resources.

“Maker spacers provide opportunity for kids to learn about STEM in ways that are authentically connected to their lives,” Calabrese-Barton said. “They can come in here and make things to solve the problems that they care about.”

Calabrese-Barton also emphasized that Think Tank, unlike other organizations that are more adult focused, is taking a different approach by emphasizing the children.

“Think Tank expands the mission of Impression 5 to provide hands on experiences,” she said. “It also provides a model for other organizations that want to have an equity focused youth centered maker space.”