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Ann Richards School Foundation
Ann Richards School (ARS) MakerSpace
Ann Richards School (ARS) is an all-girls public school serving grades 6 through 12, with 75% of the students from Title One (low income feeder schools) and 25% of the students from other Austin Independent School District (AISD) schools.
The school’s MakerSpace project funded by the Impact Austin grant is a cutting-edge hands-on, project-based center, the collaborative effort of the Ann Richards Foundation, AISD, and the Austin high tech industry. The ARS MakerSpace will positively impact both the students and the south Austin community by providing a tinkering space to transform projects from concept to creation and allow students to deepen their understanding of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math skills concepts). The next generation of great inventors will benefit from the opportunity to expand their knowledge in a designated space to tinker, invent, and develop skills necessary for success in the 21st century work environment.
The school achieved its goals by completing the renovation in November 2014, and having all students use the space. All 8th graders completed a course in the MakerSpace. In addition, ARS high school students completed at least three hours of STEM classroom projects in the space, a Tinkering Consultant provided professional development for 100 percent of the faculty, and ARS hosted eight workshop weekends in the MakerSpace for friends and family.
Impact Austin’s grant for the MakerSpace transformed ARS’ campus and evolved its project- based curriculum, allowing students to engage hands-on in the scientific process.
The space has inspired the larger education community as ARS welcomed other schools and programs around the country to learn about and replicate the concept. ARS principals were selected out of 2,000 applicants to give their presentation “Making Change, Empowering Girls through Making” in front of 200 attendees in the STEM and education fields at the 2015 SXSWedu conference.
The culmination of a year for the MakerSpace was the “Make O Rama” held by the school in April 2015. The event was organized
by ARS 12th graders and featured maker projects from 6th-12th grade students. One student at the event noted, “Throughout the Make O Rama we shared the steps we took to make our product and possible improvements for the future. Ultimately the sharing process was one of our favorite times because we were able to share with our community the hard work we had been doing.”