Mobile Makerspace Once Known as SparkTruck Rolls Into Town

The big, boxy California transplant is being adopted by Southern Methodist University and will be retooled for Texas to help teachers fuel the creative spark in students.

maker truck

You might call it a maker truck in the making, and it’s about to hit the streets of Dallas to promote the maker movement to teachers and students alike.

Formerly called the SparkTruck, Southern Methodist University adopted the vehicle from Stanford University in California where it resided for the past five years.

The truck made a cross-country journey to Dallas where SMU students will redesign it, inside and out, to make it a teaching tool to help K-12 teachers to inspire and to pursue professional development through innovation.

“This big truck is a kind of rolling ambassador for the maker movement.”
Katie Krummeck

“This big truck is a kind of rolling ambassador for the maker movement,” said Katie Krummeck, director of SMU’s Deason Innovation Gym. “If you’re not familiar with it, the maker movement is all about sharing creative challenges with people from very different backgrounds to build things.“

Krummeck said the truck will be a big boost in maker education.

“The explosion in easily available digital tools and software is fueling the fire, and it turns out that this kind of hands-on maker-based instruction is a great way to engage students in whatever subject they are learning,” she said. 

SMU students will retrofit the truck to ensure that its educational mission is supported by things such as workflow, storage, and comfort.

maker truck

As the SparkTruck, the vehicle traveled thousands of miles making visits. [Photo via SparkTruck video]

During its journey from California, the truck carried this message on its side: “This is not a maker truck” — yet.

Krummeck is familiar with the truck. She managed the SparkTruck program at Stanford before coming to SMU in 2015.

“We’re going to develop teaching frameworks, open-source curriculum, tools, and resources as well as some really engaging professional development opportunities for educators,” Krummeck said in a release. “And we’re going to deliver these resources and experiences out of the back of this mobile makerspace. We’ll know what to call it after our students put their heads together during the design challenge we have planned for May 22-26.”

“We’ll know what to call it after our students put their heads together during the design challenge we have planned for May 22-26.”
Katie Krummeck

SMU said that a group of K-12 teachers interested in the maker education movement wil join Krummeck July 11-13 for a three-day, free, immersive maker education workshop.

The workshop has drawn 180 applicants, and it will be hosted in the Lyle School of Engineering’s Deason Innovation Gym.

The Innovation Gym is where most of SMU’s immersive design challenges occur. Workshop participants also will get to see the finished maker truck.  

MAKER TRUCK ALLOWS SMU TO ORCHESTRATE EXPERIENCES

Krummeck is working with Rob Rouse, clinical assistant professor in a collaboration between the School of Engineering and the Simmons School of Education and Human Development. Rouse’s research looks at how design-based learning environments can engage students.  

“Simply building a dedicated place for students to make, or adopting a ‘maker-based approach” to education, does not give teachers sufficient guidance for how to successfully orchestrate worthwhile maker-based activities,” Rouse said in the release. 

He said the partnership will position the two schools to immediately support teachers implementing high-quality maker-based instruction at their own schools.

“The maker education truck will allow us to orchestrate experiences for teachers that will give them insight into the ethos of the maker movement, build their confidence with maker-based pedagogical frameworks, and acquaint them with tools and skills,” Rouse said.

The truck also will be used to help train Dallas ISD middle school teachers in the summer as part of the Simmons School’s STEM Teacher Academy, SMU said.

maker truck

The maker truck made a cross-country journey to SMU. [Photo Courtesy SMU]


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  1. […] Southern Methodist University professor Rob Rouse is researching whether innovation labs/makerspaces influence how students learn. The University of Texas at Arlington also received a grant recently from the Institute of Museum […]