WILBRAHAM – Wilbraham & Monson Academy (WMA) recently finished constructing a new addition to its campus called the Tinkerpreneurshop, which gives students resources to create new objects in unfamiliar ways.
WMA Science Department Chair Kathy Gorski told Reminder Publications she believed a space for students to meet, brainstorm, and collaborate on weekends was needed at the boarding school.
“Entrepreneurial and innovation skillsets are becoming increasingly valued in higher education,” she added. “WMA’s own entrepreneurship classes have grown to include global and social perspectives alongside the more traditional business focused aspects.
Through donations by WMA Board member and alumnus Mark Shenkman and an anonymous donor, two computer labs and a physics classroom in the Mattern Science Center were redesigned into the Tinkerpreneurshop, she noted.
The school received $80,000 to fund the project, she added.
Each of the computer rooms features a dry erase idea wall for brainstorming and a nook area with movable furniture, which helps support collaborative group work, Gorski said. The physics room is sectioned with a foldable whiteboard partition, which allows the space to be shared.
“We’ll close the partition – physics can still have there lecture class – and then another class can come in the back and we can use the space for fast prototyping, maybe some 3D printing; whatever we need,” she added. “We’re also going to be using it in a science and social studies project for a joint multi-disciplinary project in the fall. I’ve been talking about our [advanced placement] literary teacher who is already thinking about an end of year project that will use this space.”
Students have freedom to pursue their own projects outside of the classroom, some of which have included creating LEGO Mindstorms robotics, dismantling old computers and cell phones, as well as creating new objects out of old material, she noted.
Many students who have graduated from WMA have become successful in entrepreneurial fields and she believes the space would benefit those wishing to become entrepreneurs, she added.
Gorski said construction began in July and was finished in mid September.
She added that she would like to see the space utilized school-wide, including WMA’s middle school.
“The middle schoolers come up once in a while –they’re welcome any time,” she noted. “We want it to be a year-round idea. We’ve tried to incorporate it into summer programs. We want to be this a culture of innovative thinking.”