Maker Camp

Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tennessee recently hosted a summer event called Maker Camp.  The two day camp had rising 9th and 10th grade students creating and assembling 3D printed quadcopters and learning to fly them.

“The learning experience exceeded my expectations,” remarked Camp Director Dr. Cheri Thomas in a recent interview. “…Not only did they get to 3D print their quad frames, but they also wired the flight controller circuit boards to the frames, soldered wiring points to the circuit boards,  attached the batteries, programmed the circuit boards and paired the circuit boards with the radio controllers.  Then they assembled the rest of the quads (motors, batteries, and rotors).”

Dr. Thomas described how the design for the quadcopters had not yet been tested, so the kids had to work through several design obstacles.  “We held a ‘campfire’ to discuss what went wrong and how to fix it.  The kids had an amazingly intelligent and engaged discussion about problem diagnosis and possible fixes,” she stated.

“They were so excited about their ideas that they begged us to let them go to the computer lab and get some 3D design software so they could learn how to design their concepts…when parents started showing up to take them home they pleaded for more time before they had to leave.”

The camp was provided at no cost to the students.  Funding was contributed by the “Closing Gaps Through Partnerships” LEAP Grant, which was supplied by the Gattis Leadership group in Pulaski.  Also sponsoring the camp were Giles County Economic Development Commission, Giles County School Board, M&M Staffing, Rost Jewelers, Shawn Promotions, Sundrop and The Butcher Shopp.

The camp was open to youths from Bedford, Giles, Franklin, Lawrence, Lewis, Marshall and Wayne counties.  Eighteen campers attended from Giles, Lawrence, Marshall and Wayne counties.

The camp was planned by a group  consisting of Dr. Cheri Thomas (chair, Martin Methodist College), Cindy Young (Giles County School System); Justin Jolly (South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance); Lynn Dotson (TN Department of Education); Tonja Garrett (South Central Tennessee Workforce Alliance and Project Manager of LEAP Grant).  The camp was run by volunteers Matt Crane (Giles County Small Business Development Center); Jim Greene (CEO Richland LLC); Robin Jones (VP Columbia Fire Equipment); Kim Ketchum (Managing Partner, Bamberg Company); Ron Kramedjian (CEO Enterprise Energy); and Dr. Cheri Thomas.

“Having gotten our ‘beta test’ camp under our belts, we aspire to three camps next summer,” stated Dr. Thomas.  “…We may do another 3D printing camp next year, but also under consideration are bio-technology, electronics and robotics.”

“He didn’t play video games last night,” commented a mom of one of the campers.  “He got out his old remote control cars and workd on them.  He also asked me to wash his camp t-shirt so he could wear it again today.”

About Cody Newbold

Cody Newbold holds a Bachelor of Science in software engineering from Middle Tennessee State University and serves as Director of Digital Innovation for Validity Publishing.

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