Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Making for Mental Health #MakerEd

tl;dr - Making and the general act of creation/creativity helps support students' mental health.

It has been a number of weeks since my last blog post and it is simply because I have been too busy with students and personal projects to sit and write a full post. I'm posting plenty on Instagram and you should check out the student work there.

During this posting absence, so many different student projects were taking place. Students were building mousetrap cars in high school engineering, my Innovation and Design students were constructing bridges, and my Woodworking apprentice was feverishly redesigning the FabLab as part of her capstone project. In the middle of the craziness, I found myself obsessing over learning to use the lathe to turn pens and rings. As I look back now, it is surprising that all of the craziness of student projects, end of marking period, and holiday fun did not force my mental health issues of anxiety and depression to show their faces.

Today was another crazy day, but a day filled with so much making and fun that it brought a tear to my at the end of the day when I sat down to reflect. I take pictures all of the time when the Innovation is hopping with students. Here is a little rundown of what today was like.

Eve, my woodworking apprentice, comes to see me 45 minutes into the start of school saying we needed to act fast and get a cart because there are some logs from a tree that was cut down next to the school. She tried to get one of them last night, but they were too heavy. I grabbed my coat and, with the help of my good buddy Michael M, we picked up some quality pieces of wood. The student really wants to make a coffee table out of the large full stump piece and smaller projects (shelves, cutting boards, etc.) with the other pieces.

I also had seniors in their Engineering class working on their mousetrap cars and spent a great deal of time helping students learn to use various tools, problem solve design issues, and just getting to know them all. It was so fun to see a group of seniors just having a blast, working together, and learning things along the way. It was such a pure form of education. It made me smile. I showed a student how to lathe, use a mitre saw, cut circles on the laser cutter, use a drill (then how to reverse the drill), and so much more. It was all fun and laughs. 


During the craziness of the day, I found some time to explore my own making. I want to learn to turn pens and rings so I can add it to my Innovation and Design class. I've made one pen and one letter opener (same principle as pen turning). I am almost done with my second pen and I already know it will be much better than the first. 

I've also been working on an epoxy river table. Eve wants to create an awesome table that will include an epoxy coating and I want to make sure that I can help guide her through the process, so I needed to make my own table. Here is my table so far. I drew it, scanned it into CAD software, had the CNC carve it, colored and poured epoxy, and sanded it all down. I still need to stain and place a final coat of epoxy, but I like where I am so far. Eve's table is awesome and she loves showing it off to other students and explaining her process. 


It was a busy day, but I couldn't be happier. The more I reflect on the making that takes place in our space, all of the kids are just having a blast because making makes people happy. Making is great for mental health. Just like we need to give students time to run around and play, we need to keep giving them time to be creative and make things. As mental health issues for our children become more and more recognized as an important issue that needs to be dealt with, hopefully people will look at the act of making as a way to bring joy into the lives of our students. 

1 comment:

  1. Hello! This post really resonated with me. It is awesome that you are able to incorporate both technology and your own passions in your work to support your student's mental health. I have a lot of students who are high performing, and have terrible anxiety because of it. It's also great you mentioned taking care of your own mental health as well. I think as teachers, we are so busy taking care of others that we often neglect ourselves. I'm wondering now how I can incorporate tech in my class to help relieve some of the stress my students (and me too) often feel.


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