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Oak Creek's new hub for creativity and invention opened last week



REVIEW PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - Oak Creek Elementary School students eagerly anticipate entering the new maker space.Parents fashioned a vibrant hub for imagination and invention out of one half of a computer lab in a gray-walled, windowless, lower-level room in Oak Creek Elementary School.

Since a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Friday, half of the lab now serves as a maker space at the K-5 school. The area is intended to offer opportunities for science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM). To make some STEAM, the maker space features a 3-D printer, a bank of microscopes, a craft table, tables for engineering projects, a Lego wall and a table for reverse engineering (taking things apart and maybe putting them back together). Other features include a rolling shelf of reference books and Spheros, which are glowing, robotic orbs. Sounds fun, right?

“It’s not meant for playing,” third-grader Monte Bump explains, solemnly. “It’s meant to be a space where you can build and invent stuff.”

The maker space activities will be incorporated into instruction, and a teacher will be able to keep an eye on kids as they create, and then clean up.

“I think kids learn so much more when they’re doing hands-on activities, so they understand underlying concepts,” says Oak Creek parent Deanne Knipple.REVIEW PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - Cutting the ribbon are, from left: Lake Oswego Junior High sixth-grader and former Oak Creek student Quinn Edgar, Oak Creek third-grader Madelyn Knipple, LOJ sixth-grader and former Oak Creek student Liam Knipple and Oak Creek third-grader Monte Bump.

The Oak Creek Parent Teacher Organization's Science Enrichment Committee co-chairwomen, Knipple and Anja Bump (Monte’s mom), spearheaded the maker space project. The pair had many contributions in leading the project, including that Bump added the Spheros after winning them in an Hour of Code email contest and that Knipple and her children painted the dull walls into a variegated splash of life this summer: yellow-orange, green, blue and white.

“There was a lot of work over the summer, but I think it’s paying off,” says Liam Knipple, a Lake Oswego Junior High School sixth-grader, as he surveys the crowd during the ribbon cutting. “It looks like a lot of people are liking it.”

His friend Quinn Edgar, also an LOJ sixth-grader, particularly likes the Spheros and agrees about the maker space in general.

“A lot of people are going to be benefit from this, just (in the) knowledge” they’ll gain, Quinn says.REVIEW PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - Oak Creek Parent Teacher Association's Science Enrichment Committee co-chairwomen and make space project leaders Deanne Knipple, left, and Anja Bump hoist the ribbon-cutting scissors. Bump and Knippe are standing in the gray-walled computer lab that took up the whole room before they added the maker space.

Bump and Knipple rallied the whole school around the project, which had some donated items, but mostly was funded by a PTO-approved budget, Knipple says. The Lake Oswego School District paid for the 3-D printer, and some of the equipment, such as microscopes, is from when the room used to be a science lab.

Usually older children receive more science instruction, but Bump says scientists have proved that exposing kids to such academic opportunities at an earlier age can kick-start their academic understanding. Plus, so many students were enjoying the lessons learned during science night activities, she says.

“We see so much joy when we do the science nights, and we just wanted to give more opportunities for all children,” Bump notes.

There’s definitely a celebration of art in the maker space as well. It features a colorful sign — an installation led by artist-in-residence Troy Mathews — that every fifth-grader in the school put her or his mark on last spring. The sign is filled with student signatures.REVIEW PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - The crowd samples some of the activities in the maker space during the opening ceremony.

Lake Oswego Junior High School sixth-grader Lukas Knipple, Liam’s twin, came back to appreciate his signature on the sign and the completion of the whole project during the Friday ribbon cutting. He clutched a giant pair of scissors wrought of cardboard and tinfoil that were employed to intensify showmanship during the Friday ceremony, while tiny, red-handled scissors discretely made short work of the ribbon. Liam crafted the larger pair.

“I just love it,” Lukas said of the maker space. “I just love every single aspect of it, including these scissors.”

Contact Jillian Daley at 503-636-1281 ext. 109 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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