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DAVID F. ASHTON - Steve Sobieszczyk watches, as his daughter Maggie fashions a new game. Continuing a new tradition in the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood, Arleta School held another “Make-it Faire” on the evening of January 21.


“We replaced our Math/Science Night with what we call ‘Make-it Faire’ three years ago, and the response was overwhelming,” said its organizer, Arleta School Teacher Librarian and Media Specialist, Melinda McCrossen.

“Seeing our parents being engaged is also super important to me,” McCrossen told THE BEE, as eddies of students swirled through the school’s halls. “The ‘Make-it Faire’ education spills out of the school building, and into the home. Then, the parents are engaged too, and they’re working a project with their student.

“When schools eliminated shop and home economics classes, students lost the opportunity to learn how to use tools,” McCrossen reflected. “Anytime one uses tools, they automatically apply STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills.

“Learning-by-doing experimenting helps the experiences ‘stick’ in students’ memories. Learning, in the absence of experimenting, won’t be remembered, as it is while inventing or creating something,” McCrossen added.

Technology isn’t just a computer, McCrossen went on. “Technology is applied science – a much wider definition than a piece of hardware. We need to get back to being a nation of inventors.”

Around the school that night, starting in the Make-it Fair Spectacular Arcade (also known as the gymnasium), students and parents found “Tinker Camp”, where students imagined, designed, and created one-of-a-kind arcade games using cardboard, recycled materials, and electronic components such as LED lights and motors.

In another room, “PDX DIY” helped students create a board games less than 10 minutes. “Scrap PDX” helped the kids learn how to transform discarded materials into works of art, and students did get to keep their creations. At the “Maker Space” in the Library – the first such in any Portland Public School – students learned how to make “LittleBit kits”.

And, in the staircase by Arleta School’s office, was held the first annual “Egg Drop” competition – in which students tested ways to drop an egg without its breaking.

Arleta School Principal Seth Jones smiled has he watched his students’ enthusiasm as they tried not to run as they proceeded from room to room at the “Make-It Faire”.

“This is all about getting kids engaged in their learning,” Jones grinned. “And, ‘community’ is a huge part of our school. It’s so important for us to bring families together, bringing kids and their parents to play, and to learn together. That’s what it’s all about for us.”

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