Student creating “Makerspace’ at school

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Granville senior Colin O'Brien

An initiative to transform room 139 at Granville Junior/Senior High School into a project-creation room for various facets has been placed in the hands of a Granville senior.

Colin O’Brien’s vision for the “Makerspace” that will be presented to the Granville Board of Education on March 1 is being put into effect. However, O’Brien is optimistic the multi-purpose room will be operational before the presentation to the school board.

“It’s a S.T.E.A.M. room which stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math,” O’Brien said. “This combination will be a place for students to work on projects for classes and clubs using the technology the school has to complete anything school-related.”

O’Brien has spent the last seven months with fellow classmates Brandon Chenier, Peyton VanBuren, Matthew Pietryka, Savannah Lotz, Kaelyn DeKalb and Emily Powers collecting new and antique 3-D printers and technology of all sizes, purposes and ages for future Granville students to complete projects, “imagine and create.”

Principal Lisa Meade said O’Brien worked for the district in the technology department this past summer and was primarily seen helping in the newly established room 139 resulting from the district’s Capital Project.

“I wanted to collect anything technology that we weren’t using, and it turned out we had quite a few 3-D printers that people haven’t used in a while,” Meade said. “Knowing Colin and how smart he is, he would use time before and after school and take one or two ideas from me and turn them into 82 better ideas and rehab this room. He’s doing that as an independent study with Mr. (P.J.) Sommo.”

Sommo said the “Indiana Jones-like process” of locating and “excavating” the archaic pieces of technology older than O’Brien and putting them back to use has been a joy.

The first project being worked on in the repurposed room is using acquired felt and foam to create puppets for Mr. Houston’s drama club.

O’Brien is envisioning the room to have five 3-D printers, a painting station with an airbrush, a station for foam construction and a Lego wall for students to utilize. He would like to see various clubs such as the VEX Robotics club become involved as well when operational.

“It’s really a place for students to decompress and work on projects,” he said.

Sommo described O’Brien’s character and effort in this initiative as “exemplary” as he has also started up the Gaming Club at the high school level.

“Colin is very good at setting goals for himself and for others, setting a timeframe and getting things done within that time frame, which is absolutely essential in building a Makerspace,” Sommo said.

Over the period of restoration of the room, Meade recalled seeing a strong establishment of identity and maturity in O’Brien.

“When you give him an idea, he knows how to put it into action. He works in that room independently, we do not supervise him. We’re trusting him to go in and out of that room and he’s always been responsible, which I definitely appreciate,” Meade said. “I have seen an incredible growth in his confidence and I would say professionalism. I feel like he was pretty quiet at the start of this project and now he’s like ‘Ms. Meade, we need this, this and this, let’s go!’ He keeps me on task but it’s appropriate.”

After high school, O’Brien is considering studying computer science at either SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Buffalo or SUNY Canton.