As part of The Out-of-Door Academy’s commitment to sustainability and STEAM education, a new MakerSpace has been added to the Upper School, filled with hand and power tools and sustainably sourced materials the students can use in both engineering and arts classes.
A MakerSpace is commonly described as a “collaborative work space inside a school, library or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring, and sharing that uses high tech to no tech tools.”
This fall, a new space on the first floor of the Arts Building next to the ceramics studio was designated as a MakerSpace. Art faculty member and MakerSpace supervisor Mr. Levi Biedermann, designed and organized the layout of the space and built all of the storage systems. He outfitted the space with a variety of power and hand tools to include a commercial grade band saw, drill press, miter saw, jigsaw, and welding station. A myriad of hand tools—hammers, screwdrivers, awls, chisels, wrenches, and pliers—were purchased and organized in the space. The one thing missing was the raw materials needed to begin creating.
Not one to be daunted by obstacles, Mr. Biedermann, decided to tackle the challenge head-on. He immediately went out into the local community, approaching multiple manufacturing companies in the area to ask for the scrap materials they were currently paying refuse companies to haul away. Each request was received positively, and Mr. Biedermann soon had his vehicle loaded with donated lumber and metal. He also solidified a partnership with Sarasota Architectural Salvage (SAS,) gaining access to the raw and recycled materials in their warehouse. When our students create with these donated materials, the finished pieces will be donated back to SAS and ODA will receive a percentage of the commission of the sold piece.
“Currently, industrial scrap metal and lumber scraps have very low commercial value,” said Mr. Biedermann. “Companies have to pay to have these materials removed. Donating them to ODA for use in our MakerSpace is a win-win; we have high-quality materials for our students to use, and the companies don’t have to pay for removal and also get a tax write-off for their donation.”
As an artist interested in sustainability and sourcing his supplies responsibly, Mr. Biedermann is more than familiar with taking materials previously discarded by others and turning them into something functional, beautiful, or valuable to others. “My interest in integrating sustainable materials into my work has always been there,” said Mr. Biedermann. “Now I have a new way to put my interest to use and to share this interest with my students.”