MENTOR Makerspace is a program created by O’Reilly Media (creators of Make Magazine and Maker Faire) in partnership with Otherlab and made possible by an award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The program aims to encourage and nurture the introduction of new design tools and collaborative practices of making to high school students. By creating makerspaces in an educational context, students can have access to tools and equipment that they might not have otherwise; they can collaborate on projects that are driven by their own interests, and by doing so, develop the capacity and confidence to innovate. Our goal is to establish the practices of making in high schools in 1000 schools over the course of four years.
There are 15 schools, mostly in the Bay Area, that are part of this year-1 pilot program, some of which were chosen because of their already-developed making facilities (like Athenian), and some of which are trying to develop theirs. While we will see some of this DARPA grant money and equipment, our function will be primarily mentoring other schools as part of our mission’s public purpose of private schools, as well as our engineering program’s stated purpose of K-5 public outreach. The opening conference we attended last June at the Crucible in Oakland allowed us to begin forming partnerships with and gathering best practices from some of the top local engineering schools. We will represent Athenian at the official public launch of the MENTOR Makerspace program next Monday, September 10th at the College of San Mateo. If you are interested in attending, you can reserve tickets here.