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Engaging communities in STEM through makerspaces, outreach

3 min read

Career-Technical Education

In March, SmartBrief on Education will highlight clips from its STEM Pathways Panel Series. To stay tuned for more events like this one, check out the SmartBrief Education Events page. 

The Department of Education last week issued the call for high-school teachers and students to design and submit blueprints for makerspaces that support the development of 21st-century career skills. With $200,000 in cash and other prizes up for grabs, schools are encouraged to envision spaces that can transform existing school facilities into an environment where students can create and innovate.

Barb Huber, an aerospace educator for Loudoun County Schools in Virginia, says that makerspaces can also create visibility for science, technology, engineering and math outreach efforts. She shared how a Loudoun County school reinvented its front entryway at a recent STEM Pathways Panel.


“We were lucky enough to have some space in the front entryway, so we decided to create our makerspace,” she said. The makerspace became first thing people would see when they entered the school.

“When parents and community members walk in, they see kids engaged in making,” Huber said. “Projects are very prominent.”

Loudon County Schools also works to increase STEM visibility through community outreach, according to Huber.


“One of the things that Loudon does with their STEM program is they actively recruit girls,” she said. “They reach out to teachers and ask about girls who are interested in the sciences but may not be willing to step up to anything yet.”

A technology resource teacher also created a maker challenge to connect with community members, Huber said. The educator tied Hispanic Heritage Month to making in order to reach out to the Hispanic community, which is very large in his attendance zone.

“He made a lot challenges and created opportunities for the community to come in and [for] students to engage.”

Mina Dixon is an editorial assistant at SmartBrief, where she helps write and edit content across industries, including education.

SmartBrief Education’s Path to Workforce content series brings you original content and events on the topic. #Path2W is our vision of college and career readiness, encompassing K-12, adult learners, career changers, non-traditional students and those who forgo a traditional four-year college experience.

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