Holy Spirit Preparatory Expanding Its Maker Program

January 8, 2013

By Guest Contributor Andres Pinzon, Holy Spirit Preparatory School STEM Center Director, Atlanta, Georgia


Holy Spirit Preparatory School (HSP) has offered since 1996 a learning environment where students with diverse cultural backgrounds enthusiastically acquire knowledge and cultivate the skills necessary for leadership in the 21st century.

The economic and technological developments of the last  years have made it clear that our school should provide greater avenues for students to personalize their education. As well as the classical components of education, students will need to learn how to solve challenges creatively, explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related fields, acquire experience with new technologies and have the tools to be able to become entrepreneurs.

Building our first VEX robot model


Robotics team showing model created for “Virtual School Principal” challenge
Robotics team showing model created for “Virtual School Principal” challenge

We set out to define the components of a STEM Lab/ maker space and guided discovery learning programs for the Upper School Campus in Fall 2011. Enrichment clubs and activities were selected that would motivate student participation (computer modeling and 3-D printing, flight ground school, robotics, and 3-D educational simulations, building and participating in submarine competitions –  www.seaperch.org). The space where these activities would take place needed to be inviting, comfortable, flexible and allowances had to be made for future expansion.



Back to front view of maker space                                     Maker space lounge area


SeaPerch Navy Sea Cadet program school competition
Final adjustments to a SeaPerch submarine before deployment in pool



After design and renovation of an existing classroom, the new lab was unveiled to the school community by December of 2011. Students played a part in the process by helping assemble the custom built computers as well as a Rapman 3-D printer kit.



Calibrating 3-D printer                                             Examining Rapman 3-D printer


From the beginning our maker space has been successful at capturing the interest and imagination of the students who enjoy technology. We have been especially encouraged to see success with students who have learning disabilities or needed to find a place in school where to “hang out” with others that have common interests. These students felt empowered by the experience of creating a bridge on Sketchup, flying a simulation of a Cessna airplane in a full motion platform, assembling electronic controllers, or recreating designer pillows with duct tape.  “I have an idea”, “I know how it works” and “I made this” are powerful statements that transform student’s attitude towards realizing creative endeavors and taking on challenges.



Testing flight simulator                        Students building robot using Lego NXT kit


Starting school year 2012-2013 Holy Spirit Prep started offering an Engineering degree to High School students. Additional 3-D printing, scanning and well as laser cutting equipment is now available. New STEM oriented activities are being prepared and tested that will benefit Pre-K, Elementary and High School students, and greater emphasis will be made on serving girls and the arts. Heightened interest and engagement by parents, students and faculty have generated the momentum for creating a new maker space at our Lower School Campus.


HSP16 HSP8and9.001

Middle schooler explaining to HS students  3-D printing principles, student showing 3-D printed scan with Xbox Kinect


In the last year we have learned that willingness to try new ideas, desire to reach out to student’s interest as well as a large dose of fun are the foundation of a maker culture. Greater rewards lie ahead of us as we aim not only to serve all HSP students but those children that are not able to access maker space resources in our community.



 “Virtual School Principal” challenge robot assembly, Building a biped robot
Holy Spirit Preparatory School is owned and operated as an Independent Catholic School by a Georgia non-profit corporation. From 2007 to 2012 it was named one of the top fifty Catholic high schools in the country by the National Catholic High School Honor Roll. For more information, please visit  www.holyspiritprep.org










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