Plans are under way for developing a revolutionary process for collecting dust that is created by combines and reducing the threat of potential contaminants spreading to neighboring fields.

Plans are under way for developing a revolutionary process for collecting dust that is created by combines and reducing the threat of potential contaminants spreading to neighboring fields. In other agricultural-related developments, the idea of developing vertical farms to put less demand on acreage is starting to take shape. These developments are in the idea stage, but they are solutions that two Chillicothe fifth-grade students identified as a means to solve real world problems. Tucked away in small space adjacent to the library at Central Elementary School is The Hive. This is the district’s first school-built destination Makerspace. Makerspace is more of a philosophy and less of “a thing,” according to Melissa Young, education technology specialist with the Chillicothe R-2 School District. “It is a place where kids can focus on solving real world problems and go through that engineering process, that design-thinking model,” she said. “It can take place in the classroom, in a spot like this, in the library.” The philosophy is that it is not necessarily a space, but at Central School, it is a space. It is a destination. At this location, the students are furnished with many things that can help them with the engineering, design-thinking model. At the core of the Makerspace is STEAM – science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. The school district on Tuesday was presented a $3,555 grant from the Fitzgerald Family Trust of Bethany to expand the district’s Makerspace program. The funds will be used to help develop a Makerspace at the new elementary school and expand Makerspace ideas throughout the district. The grant was awarded on the whole STEAM environment and atmosphere filling up the Makerspace, Young said. Inside The Hive, students explore robotics, sewing, crafting, writing, drawing, inventing, diagramming, and more. They spent the first semester learning about the engineering model. They learned the process for design and now they are focused on creating projects for a real-world audience. For example, Sadie Burtch, a fifth-grade student, is making a dust accumulator for a combine. “I am making it because there was a law made that you can’t get dust in other people’s fields,” she said. Martín Moore, another fifth-grade student, is building a video game. He already has ideas for next year, based on his art project’s assignment to create an invention. “Mine is a farm that actually goes upwards and has water pumps that go out and up,” he said. “Instead of taking up land, you can go up so there will be more space available.” Martín decided that a real world problem is that farming takes up much land and that land is sparse. “He decided that he was going to build an invention where the farm moves up, instead of moves out,” Young said. “So, he has a water system that he wants to develop and all different kinds of things.” Quilting, robotics and forensics also are being explored by the students. “There are lots of different things happening at the same time,” said Young. The STEAM Club is an after school club that meets once a week primarily for students in grades four through six. Sophie Chambers and Andrea Beck are the STEAM Club sponsors. “Our goal in creating Makerspace areas and focusing on STEAM-type courses is that this is not an after school thing,” Young said. “We want it built into our everyday classes at school.” Several of the STEAM Club members will be traveling to St. Louis next week to give a presentation about their projects at the Midwest Education Technology Community conference. Last fall, Young and club members shared their program during the Missouri School Board Association Conference at the Lake of the Ozarks. It was at this conference that a representative from the Fitzgerald Family Foundation saw the students’ presentation, was impressed with the program and suggested that Young apply for a foundation grant. “Our goal with this grant is to expand our STEAM initiative by creating places in other buildings where students can focus on the Design Thinking model and learn to solve real world problems by developing empathy with a client, research, prototyping and testing,” Young said. “STEAM Club students have this opportunity already, however, we would love to find a way to offer the same opportunity to all students in our district. Building Makerspace areas around our district is one way to start initiating this type of thinking.” The Makerspace also teaches perseverance, Young said. “The first idea that they try to implement isn’t necessarily the best idea,” she noted. “It’s that out-of-the-box thinking that really helps them get to the prototype that works for that problem. We’re trying to teach kids how to think, develop a philosophy and solve real world problems.”