This article is part of a series of interviews with our partner organizations in the Making Spaces program — in this edition, we hear from the Innovation Center at Folsom Lake College. Read more Hub Highlights here.
Tell us a little bit about your organization and the learners that you serve!
The Innovation Center is a discipline-agnostic, general education makerspace at Folsom Lake College, a public community college serving students in the Greater Sacramento area. The IC is home to interdisciplinary programs and projects, courses and certificates in making, and partners with K-12 schools from throughout the region to support maker-centered learning.
What challenges has your organization faced this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how have you adapted?
Folsom Lake College began remote operations in March 2020, as did our Making Spaces partner sites. As such, we have limited access to our makerspace, and have had to invent creative ways to support our partners and our own college maker community. Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve participated in regional PPE efforts, sewing masks and printing face shields for health care workers and organizations serving unsheltered populations; engaged in collaborations with other community colleges in our regional network on make-at-home efforts, and collaborated with our Making Spaces partner sites to help support their remote maker efforts. We’re supporting each other and all figuring it out together.
Why did you originally join the Making Spaces program?
We joined Making Spaces because of our commitment to and passion for maker-centered learning. The program offered us an opportunity to deepen partnerships that we’ve cultivated over time with K-12 schools in our service area. The California Community Colleges — the largest system of higher education in the nation — provide affordable opportunities for a diverse population of students (immigrants, first generation, low-income students) and serve as anchors in their communities. Given this unique role, we’re excited to facilitate connections between K-14 educators and community organizations within our regional maker ecosystem.
How has participating in Making Spaces has helped your organization achieve its goals?
Participation in the Making Spaces program has given us access to tools, training, community, and new ways to engage with our partners. Working with a broad range of school sites, we’re reminded that making is as diverse as makers. For example, we have sites focused on making within the context of the STEM middle school-to-high school-to-college pipeline, one with programs to support low-res tinkering and making with young children, a middle school with an agriculture focus, and a school that is involved in making in outdoor, nature, and school garden contexts.
Tell us about a recent “win” or success you’ve had!
Recent successes include working with one of our partner sites — Cordova High — to articulate their senior Advanced Product Innovation and Design course with a course at Folsom Lake College, helping students get on the college path while in high school. We were fortunate to be selected to host an AmeriCorps Vista as part of Citizen Schools’ Maker Fellows program. Nicole Shuman, a current Materials Science major at UC Davis and former FLC student and Innovation Center Instructional Assistant has rejoined us in that role, and already we’re excited about the energy she’s bringing to our Making Spaces efforts. Nicole is one of several Maker Fellows in the Sacramento region, and she’s been building regional capacity through connections with her fellow… Fellows.
Are there other makers, organizations, and/or educators in your community whose work you’d like to celebrate?
Waking the Village (WTV is doing amazing work in our community. Their programs include:
- Tubman House, which provides housing and support for homeless, parenting youth and their children.
- Audre’s Emporium of New Tomorrows, which operates two shared housing sites for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults ages 18–21 that are overcoming homelessness.
- Art Beast Children’s Studio, an arts exploration environment serving children 0 to 7 and inclusive space for all parents to share art experiences with children and connect with other adults, encouraging the growth of community, art literacy, and a diverse parent network.
We’ve had WTV representatives speak to our Making Social Change course (a college class at the intersection of Sociology and Making), and we’re looking forward to continuing support of their important work.
Making Spaces is a 30-month professional learning and capacity building program designed to support local leadership around maker education and build the foundation for lasting, embedded change in pedagogy, community, and culture. We are currently accepting applications for organizations to join our fifth cohort of Hubs!
Learn More About Folsom Lake College’s Innovation Center
Location: Folsom, CA (USA)