Craft Studio launches new program aimed at STEM students

Rhode Island School of Design’s STEM to STEAM inspired the studio’s Makerspace Nights.
Pots sit out atop shelves inside MU's craft studio located in the Memorial Union basement.

With the Craft Studio’s addition of the new Makerspace Nights, students will be able to express their creativity through technology with crafts such as string ball lamps, light-up shoes and solar-powered bike lights, Makerspace facilitator Grace Doran said in an email.

The program was inspired by Rhode Island School of Design’s STEM to STEAM movement. According to their website, STEM to STEAM is an initiative to add art and design to the national agenda of STEM, which is a common acronym for science, technology, engineering and math.

The program’s goal is to “foster the true innovation that comes with combining the mind of a scientist or technologist with that of an artist or designer,” according to their website.

“I am an Engineering student and ... the College of Engineering is very STEM oriented, with no mention of the ‘A,’” Doran said. “However, I believe they go hand in hand. Computer science students, in my opinion, are making a form of art when they are coding software, civil engineers are making a form of art when they design roadways or buildings. It is all based on perspective.”

Makerspace sessions aim to teach participants new skills, such as sewing, basic electronics, woodworking, soldering or paper craft. Crafternoons, another free craft program run by the Craft Studio, facilitates more Pinterest-inspired crafts that students do at their own pace.

“Crafternoons are specifically designed for MU students to just have a couple hours where they just relax and blow off steam from whatever kind of week that they’re having,” Craft Studio student assistant Awal Geng said.

Makerspace crafts, on the other hand, are more technical.

“I feel that it is a way to let out my creative side and not be so focused on math and numbers all the time,” Doran said. “Getting to actually do hands on projects and make something is just as important as being able to calculate everything for the project prior to actually making it.”

Amy Hay, the Craft Studio adviser, is hoping to attract a new kind of patron to the Craft Studio with Makerspace.

“We are looking at a new market,” Hay said. “We want to focus a little more on engineering students and students who are involved in STEM. We do see those students in our space already; many of them have figured out on their own that arts are important as part of their learning process.”

Hay wants participants in Makerspace to learn from their mistakes as they create.

“That’s one of the things that I think is really important in the arts, how if something is successful that’s great, but when something doesn’t work, understanding why it doesn’t work is almost more important than getting it right,” Hay said. “We want students to have the opportunity to make those mistakes and learn from them.”

Makerspace Nights will be held every Tuesday through Nov. 29 from 3-5 p.m. in the Craft Studio. Makerspace is free for MU students and $2 for nonstudents.

Edited by Kyra Haas |

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